October 23, 2018

Last night the Duluth City Council passed Resolution 18-0674R, the Duluth Police Department’s (DPD) request to purchase riot gear. The Council voted on the Resolution without allowing public comment, public discussion amongst the councilors, and a formal report from the Citizen Review Board (CRB). We are disappointed in both the city administration and the City Council for pushing through this Resolution and dismissing the community’s request for an open dialogue and transparent process.

We believe good governing requires transparency and collaboration with the community. The lack of community input in planning the three public forums, hosted on October 9, 10, and 11, and the limited time given to the CRB to issue a formal report on the public forums demonstrates a disregard for due process and the role of community in the democratic process. We feel our request for the vote to remain tabled until the data from the public forums could be collected in a formal report was reasonable and the Council’s decision to move forward on the vote demonstrated a lack of respect for all parties involved, particularly the individuals who took the time to participate in the public forums and attend the City Council and CRB meetings.

We will continue to work with the CRB to ensure a robust policy is developed and implemented regarding the use and deployment of riot gear in Duluth. It is our hope that the City will work with the community to ensure the policy represents the interests of all parties and that the process for drafting that policy is transparent. Additionally, we hope that any policy properly drafted with community input is then codified by the City Council to ensure that it will stand the test of changing city administration.

Again, we would like to emphasize that 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, American Indians, homeless people, LGBTQ, and others that suffer disproportionate levels of police violence. We believe in a healthy community that works together and we are committed to continuing authentic dialogue that leads to accountable relationships between community and law enforcement that benefit all involved.