At the past several meetings regarding riot gear, several groups and collectives such as UMD Students for Justice, Anonymous Twin Ports, Anti-colonial Land Defense, Black Lives Matter, ExPrisoners Organizing, Save The Kids, Standing Up for Racial Justice, Native Lives Matter, and many others were either ignored or merely appeased with the illusion of “public input”.
For this reason on October 22nd, in the positive spirit of collective resistance, several affinity groups of many different demographics came together in a last ditch effort to stop the Duluth city council from going through with a decision that was already made long ago. When all other legal avenues of opposition were exhausted, direct action was necessary to both act as a point of unity and to resist the city’s oppressive policy. During the city council meeting, a section of the community disrupted and halted the proceedings with art, chants, and music. This was our last attempt to stop the purchase of riot gear that will only be used to further terrorize and brutalize marginalized communities on stolen native land.
There are several reasons it was necessary for that meeting to be disrupted, mainly the racist colonial history of the police, the consent and even approval of white supremacy by the Duluth Police Department (DPD), and the lack of real say the people have over the purchase of the riot gear, even amidst mass public outcry.
Beginning with the racist colonial history of the police, it is essential to recognize that police have not been a permanent fixture in history. There were people on this continent before the concept of public punitive measures was introduced by colonizers. Even now, indigenous people, along with people of color and low income people, are the most targeted by the police, yet had the least amount of say in the issue, in fact facing repression from both the city and other racist people who do not want to lose their stranglehold on the political process. The riot gear proposal and acquisition was an obvious response from the city to the indigenous led struggle against Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline that has been going on for several years, therefore adding another layer of racism onto this proposal.
Our collectives are quite obviously just a few of many organizing for liberation, each of which play different roles in the global movement to end patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, and state terrorism. Given that each organization has its own means to this common end, its critical that we all unite and remain in true solidarity with each other regardless of what means are chosen. Many important collectives and organizations attempt to be the face of a movement which has the effect of creating loyalty to a groups name, a group leader or ones position within a group, rather than remaining loyal to the struggle to liberate the earth and its children. Any collective or organization that condemns taking any means necessary in the struggle for all life on earth is a lethal arm to be used by the State to further terrorize and brutalize those of us who are willing to do something that is actually effective.
Many of us wear masks to show & embody collective identity, whilst still celebrating each other’s ancestral roots; the issues at hand affect the whole community, not just any one individual or sole group; we want to uplift each other’s voices & protect our freedom of expression, not our egos!
We are calling for a re-call on the purchase of riot gear, & a statewide ban on racist resource colonial extractive industries & projects such as mines & pipelines, & we are calling for Duluth to acknowledge & protect trans rights & existence, as well as the rights & existence of undocumented peoples… Duluth should be a sanctuary city!