GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. (KMSP) - Rose Mcgee founded Sweet Potato Comfort Pie in 2014, after watching protests in Ferguson, Missouri on the news.
“Every now and then you saw the camera zone in on someone and they were so angry. I thought, I wish there was something I could do,” Mcgee said. “So I went in the kitchen and started making sweet potato pie.”
Since Ferguson, she’s delivered sweet potato pie to the church in South Carolina where nine people were killed last year, and to police and protesters at the Minneapolis Police Department Fourth Precinct following the death of Jamar Clark last November.
“I believe firmly that if you’re not getting what you want, you have to protest, I believe in that. But, I also believe in how do we heal, and how do we get people to listen to each other,” said Mcgee.
Her latest peace offering came this past weekend as she paired up with the Circle of Grandmothers out of Nebraska to hand out 41 pies in Standing Rock North Dakota.
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and their allies have been protesting the construction of a $3.7 billion oil pipeline that will carry crude more than 1,100 miles. Protesters, or ‘protectors’ as they’ve called themselves, say the pipeline not only goes through sacred land, but they believe it will pollute the water supply.
Mcgee and her group arrived just after more than 80 people were arrested. It was the biggest arrest in the three month-long standoff.
“As soon as we got up the hill, we saw a big huge law enforcement vehicle, the kind that’s designed to take lots of people away and I thought, oh here we go," Mcgee said.
They did not get near the front lines where some protesters reportedly attached themselves to construction equipment over the weekend to try and stop work on the pipeline. Mcgee and her group instead handed out pies at a large encampment where supporters are organizing food and hygiene needs.
“What people up there are asking for is peace, they’re asking for prayer, but most of all they are asking people to treat them with respect, treat the land with respect.”