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Facing backlash, Rochester Athletic Club cancels 'Trump Gang' meeting

Facing backlash, Rochester Athletic Club cancels 'Trump Gang' meeting

The Rochester Town Board supervisor who recently came under fire for indecent and sometimes racist comments to social media is now finding it more difficult to find a venue for political meetings.

The Rochester Athletic Club announced over the weekend that it had canceled an upcoming event organized by Brian Braaten. The meeting of the "Trump Gang" was billed as an "informal discussion of today's local, state and national conservative issues."

The decision to cancel the meeting was made after at least a dozen members contacted the club to express concerns about Braaten's conduct on social media. His comments include calling the Obama family "thugs" and "anti-American negroes."

In a statement to members, the Rochester Athletic Club said it is committed to being a place that is welcoming to all people.

"Although this is not a RAC sponsored event and the RAC does not endorse any political candidates, we realize the unrest that having this event inside our walls has caused many members of the club. For this reason, RAC will not only cancel this event, but will also work on a policy to prohibit any future outside politically motivated groups from renting meeting rooms."

Pressure on the club to cancel the meeting began when a member of the grassroots progressive group, Stand Up SE Minnesota, posted a screenshot from Braaten's personal Facebook promoting the event. Dozens of comments followed urging RAC to scrap the meeting.

"It is important that our institutions both private and public do not condone or enable or support hate," wrote one member of the group. "Yes he will keep doing it, but the fewer enablers he has, the less power his hatred has."

The athletic group is not the first organization to distance itself from Braaten. The Olmsted County Republican Party has also issued a statement denouncing his extreme views.

In addition to his role on the town board, Braaten is also an appointed member of the county's environmental commission.

Update: We confirmed Thursday morning that Braaten has resigned from his position on the Olmsted County Environmental Commission, effective immediately.

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Cover photo: File / Gage Skidmore

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