Our view: Sadly, hate met with more hateHate came to Duluth on Saturday — but not from where we thought it would.
Hate came to Duluth on Saturday — but not from where we thought it would.
And in the end, with the way things played out, what can be said about our community?
White supremacists gathered, just as they promised. They brought signs to protest the recently launched, grass-roots Un-Fair Campaign. The campaign is attempting to raise awareness of white privilege. But the Supreme White Alliance, like others, is misinterpreting it as an indictment of all white people as racist. So they came with their placards and speeches at the ready. They arrived in a whiteout snowstorm at the Civic Center, even if only about eight members strong.
Their rally (or protest or whatever it was going to be), however, wasn’t given much of a chance.
Dozens of counterprotesters stormed the Civic Center to pelt the Supreme White Alliance members with snowballs, to shout them down when they attempted to speak and to shove them when they tried to move. Four of the counterprotesters were arrested, casting the Supreme White Alliance as unlikely victims rather than the bringers of trouble most anticipated.
What happened to freedom of speech?
What happened to the freedom of assembly?
Shouts and snowballs? Aren’t we better than that?
And, yes, “we.” Despite reports that the counterprotesters were anarchists from Minneapolis, one of the four arrested was a Duluthian while another was from Iron River. They weren’t all easy to dismiss as out-of-towners swooping in just to cause trouble.
The actions of a few of us have tainted the lot of us.
Disagree with all your heart with what the Supreme White Alliance stands for and what its members likely were going to espouse on Saturday. Most of us do, thankfully. But the counterprotesters crossed the line by shouting, which robbed fellow citizens of their right to free speech and their right to assemble. And they erred by throwing snowballs, which, albeit a mild form, is technically assault and a violent act.
The counterprotesters met the threat of violence with actual violence. They met hate not with love and understanding and compassion but, sadly, with more hate.
That was in stark contrast to the productive response to the Supreme White Alliance that played out well away from the Civic Center, at the Aerial Lift Bridge. Hundreds gathered there — in protest, but in peaceful protest and without confrontation.
This editorial is not in support of the Supreme White Alliance. Its intolerance and extreme stands are frightening and unacceptable. This editorial is in support of freedom, including the freedom of speech and the freedom to assemble — freedoms no one should take away, no matter how strongly they may disagree.