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Local View: Speak up so Duluth can stay a welcoming place

If you see something, say something. Can we have this be a topic of conversation in our newspaper? This could be about how we can make Duluth a more welcoming city and examine what kind of place we want to be.

For example, on a recent weekend, I attended the Festival of Trees and saw a decorative metal cutout for sale that featured a handgun in its center and, “We don’t call 911,” around its edge. I mentioned to the vendors that I didn’t think it was good for the Christmas season. They didn’t seem to care. They had really nice stuff, beautiful nature scenes, but I didn’t buy any of their stuff because of the off-putting message on that one piece. I thought about the lady I read about in the news who was killed on a guy’s doorstep because the guy thought he was getting broken into because a black woman was knocking on his door.

In this day and age, why would someone put up that sign?

I also went to the Fall Fest at Chester Bowl and saw a vendor selling headbands with the Confederate flag on them. We are in freaking Minnesota. Last I checked it was not a Confederate state, so why would we have this crap up here? Only to threaten and intimidate people who are not white? I mentioned this to the vendors. I told them this was an unwelcoming message and was offensive. They shrugged me off and continued to leave them out for sale.

I know event organizers have lots on their plates, but if there was a form where people could make note of a vendor to let organizers know there was something for sale that crossed a line, things could be looked into. Maybe a vendor does not get invited back then.

What do you want to have at these events? I’m not talking about shutting people down for having an opposite opinion. But what about something that attacks a group of people? What do you think, Duluth?

I’m OK with being called a busybody, but I want to let people know every time I see something that can shake a person to their core and make them feel harassed, threatened, intimidated and unwelcome that this has got to go. I've got to say something. When we silently walk by such stuff, we are saying the behavior is acceptable to us.

Take a step back and think about it: What do you want Duluth to be known as? We are all a part of this beautiful city. Residents and visitors alike should feel that we are all welcome here.

Victoria Shaw Carlson lives in Duluth.

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