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Duluth vigil planned in response to 'neomasculinity' event

A candlelight vigil is planned for Saturday night in Duluth in response to a "neomasculinity" meeting that had been scheduled but later was called off.

A candlelight vigil is planned for Saturday night in Duluth in response to a "neomasculinity" meeting that had been scheduled but later was called off.

That meeting, which according to online postings was set to originate at Leif Erikson Park, was expected to be part of an international meet-up day held in several countries and organized by the controversial blogger Daryush Valizadeh, a 36-year-old Maryland native who last year advocated on his blog for the legalization of rape. He said this week that his writings on the topic were "satire."

It's unclear whether the meetings have been truly canceled, said vigil organizer Allen Killian-Moore, "but we thought either way, it's an opportunity to come together and reclaim the space in our city and to celebrate work that different agencies are doing to stop domestic violence."

The event also is meant to "create a safe space in solidarity with people who have experienced (domestic violence)," he said.

Vigil participants will meet in the Rose Garden parking lot at 7:45 p.m. and walk together into Leif Erikson Park, ending on the park's stage where candles will be held in silence.

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It's important, Killian-Moore said, "to stand up against misogyny and sexual violence, and it's important for victims of sexual violence to see that their community is supporting them."

Valizadeh, who goes by the name Roosh V, wrote on his blog this week that he can't guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who planned to attend the meetings. He wrote that he couldn't stop men who wanted to meet privately, but there would be no official "Return of Kings" meet-ups.

The blogger writes about how to "pick up" women, and says on his website that it's a safe space for men who believe men should be masculine, and women feminine. The site discourages women and gay people from commenting on posts.

One ideal of Valizadeh's "neomasculinity" is that the value of a woman depends on her fertility and beauty, according to his website.

He has claimed that efforts to end rape are misguided because they teach women "not to protect themselves from easily preventable acts, and not to take responsibility for their actions."

Valizadeh's comments have drawn widespread condemnation.

The Duluth Police Department reported earlier this week that it was aware of the planned meeting and had been "gathering information on the organizers, the history of activities and potential for counter-protest."

"As always, the Duluth Police Department has a duty and obligation to facilitate for First Amendment activities to occur peacefully," Duluth police spokesman Ron Tinsley said in a prepared statement. "The police department will continuously monitor developments and adjust our response accordingly."

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