Duluth peace activists urge public to ignore white supremacy group's planned rallyLocal peace activists are urging the public to completely ignore next week's visit by the Supreme White Alliance.
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
The best way to rally against a white pride rally, according to local activists: Just don’t.
The Supreme White Alliance is planning a gathering in Duluth next month to protest an anti-racism campaign that has gotten national attention. Musician Sara Thomsen of the Echoes of Peace Choir said this is a time to get together with friends and celebrate exactly what hate groups hate.
“The main point is to not show up and do a counter-rally in the same place as this group,” Thomsen said. “That is something they’re hoping for to draw attention to themselves. We’re hoping to draw attention to positive, impactful things to honor and respect diversity.”
Thomsen and Joel Kilgour of Loaves and Fishes have been sending e-mails spreading the “stay away” message and encouraging people to invite a neighbor to dinner, gather with community members or hold a rally at a separate location away from the white supremacist group. Consider pledging money to a local group that works toward issues of equality — a certain amount for each minute the Supreme White Alliance is in town.
“If they stay all day, we raise a bunch of money and we win,” said Thomsen. “If they don’t want to stay, then we win.”
It’s a plan that was tested in 1997 when the Ku Klux Klan traveled to Ironwood, Mich., and some residents opted for a prayer vigil at a church and a Love and Unity gathering at a park. Locally, Thomsen and Kilgour were part of a similar effort when members of Westboro Church of Topeka, Kan., came to Duluth with that group's anti-homosexual message.
“Don’t show up. Just ignore. This is such an extreme and hateful group. For us to spew hate at the hating group was just creating more hate,” Thomsen said.
“Gatherings happened all over Duluth. So that was the thing we were remembering — that positive experience. It really pulled people together.”
Supreme White Alliance has planned a white pride rally to be held at 10 a.m. March 3 at the Duluth Civic Center. An organizer told the News Tribune on Tuesday that it could last up to three hours. They were prompted by the Un-Fair anti-racism campaign, which has billboard ads with a white person’s face and the words “It’s hard to see racism when you’re white.”
Kilgour said that when hate groups gather, they expect to gain new members and reaffirm their victimhood and belief that they are victims of white genocide.
“We’re not going to show up and engage them,” Kilgour said. “We’re going to use it as the chance to strengthen our community.”