© ReutersErik Meade protests in front of the closed Minnesota State Capital in Saint Paul
Tara and Jose Garcia wanted to spend the holiday weekend camping with their four children.
But a Minnesota government shutdown prevented them from pitching a tent at a state park. So they checked out county campgrounds, only to find those parks overflowing with people.
"It's bulls--t," said Tara Garcia of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. "I am just feeling, 'Are you kidding? C'mon!'"
So the Garcias parked their minivan at Ft. Snelling, a state historical site nestled on the edge of the Mississippi River, just outside Minneapolis. That too was closed. They wandered the desolate paths anyway, with nerf guns in hand and a gaggle of kids, all under age 8.
After Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders failed to reach agreement on a $5 billion budget deficit Thursday, state offices, parks, highway rest areas and a state zoo were shuttered. In addition, 22,000 government workers were hit with layoff notices.
When negotiations broke down, the two sides were about $1.4 billion apart with Democrats insisting on a tax increase for the rich and Republicans strongly opposed. The partisan impasse angered many people.