In response to the Duluth City Council’s pending vote on Monday, September 24, 2018 on the Duluth Police Department’s request to purchase riot gear – representatives of the Duluth NAACP, the Duluth Indigenous Commission, Showing Up for Racial Justice, PRISM, Twin Ports Democratic Socialists of America, the Homeless Persons' Bill of Rights Coalition, and Twin Ports Save The Kids met this Sunday afternoon. The assembled group recommends the following:
- Table the vote on the purchase of riot gear;
- Allow the community and the Duluth Police Department to gather to discuss and examine Use of Force before specifically discussing the purchase of riot gear; and
- Require at least two members of the Duluth Citizen Review Board be involved in the planning of a “Use of Force” forum and participate.
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. While a few African American and Native American leaders might have been privy to discussions with police leadership on the issue of riot gear, there has been no significant effort to elicit the wider voice of those communities. The vote on riot gear should be postponed to give the opportunity to come together and formulate a plan to help keep all of Duluth safe from violence and continue to build the trust that local police and community leadership has worked so hard to create and maintain.