October 3, 2018

Duluth City Councilors & Mayor Emily Larson,

On September 24, 2018, the Duluth City Council heard over two hours of public comment on Resolution 18-0674R, the Duluth Police Department’s (DPD) request to purchase riot gear. It is imperative that any actions relating to a potential increase in police power happen only after thorough discussion with communities of people of color, Native Americans, homeless people, LGBTQ and others that suffer disproportionate levels of police violence.

At the City Council Meeting, we requested the vote be tabled to allow the community and the DPD to gather to discuss and examine use of force and at least two members of the Duluth Citizen Review Board (CRB) be involved and participate in planning community forums. We would like to thank the Council for tabling the vote. Additionally, we support the CRB motion passed on September 26, 2018 requesting the Council allow time for 3 public forums to occur before the resolution is brought back to the Council for a vote.

We believe building public trust between the police and the community is key to enhancing public safety and reducing crime without inciting further violence, which requires open dialogue and ample opportunities for public input. We have met since the City Council and CRB Meetings in order to identify how we can best be involved in and support the planning of public forums. However, it is our concern that these forums are being planned without community input. We would again like to stress the importance of community involvement in the planning and execution of forums that will be discussing potential impacts on our personal safety.  We ask for clear lines of communication from you so there is no lack of clarity about how to we may give or receive input.

We have begun outlining what we would like to see in these public forums and humbly request:

  • City Councilors Em Westerlund and Joel Sipress be the community liaisons for the planning process

  • Three forums be scheduled across the city, specific recommendations include:

    • East Duluth Forum at either the University of Minnesota Duluth or The College of St. Scholastica

    • Central Duluth Forum at either the Holy Family Catholic Church or Lincoln Park Middle School

    • West Duluth Forum at Evergreen, Denfeld High School, or Good Fellowship Club

  • The forums be scheduled at different times to accommodate all members of the community; the ideal times would be:

    • East Duluth Forum on the weekend

    • Central Duluth Forum on a Wednesday afternoon

    • West Duluth Forum on a Tuesday evening

We believe in a healthy community that works together, not one that works to divide and harm itself. We are committed to continuing authentic dialogue that leads to accountable relationships between community and law enforcement that benefit all involved.

Respectfully submitted,

The Executive Board of the Duluth NAACP

Showing Up for Racial Justice

PRISM

Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Coalition

Twin Ports Save The Kids

Twin Ports DSA

Lake Superior Ex-Incarcerated People Organizing

Feminist Justice League

Lake Superior Socialist Action

Justice City Coalition