A resolution headed to the Duluth City Council on Monday night is designed to help the community take a stand against discrimination and serve as a response to the kind of "hate speech" Mayor Emily Larson called out in early April, when racist flyers were posted in Leif Erikson Park.
The posters promoted the "Patriot Front," a group the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled "a neo-Nazi network."
The flyers depicted a pair of black forearms shackled and bound together by a dollar sign. The posters read: "Money does not rule you" and included a link to a Patriot Front website.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the organization as a "far-right splinter group" that arose from the violent 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
Duluth Human Rights Officer Carl Crawford said: "Our community is asking us to stand up and be present and denounce hate in any form or fashion in our community."
Crawford said the proposed resolution outlines some ways the city can address discrimination and the inequities that often flow from it. It calls on the City Council and city administration "to develop an implicit bias and diversity training for city staff with the goal of maintaining a welcoming environment and strengthening community bonds."
Noah Schuchman, Duluth's chief administrative officer, said he and Mayor Larson are prepared to deliver on that promise. Schuchman said he already has met with a prospective consultant to talk about potentially providing staff training.
"It's something I believe strongly in doing, especially for people in customer service roles and for people in leadership roles to better understand the work that they're doing and the impact it can have on people from all backgrounds throughout the community," Schuchman said.
Stephan Witherspoon, president of the Duluth chapter of the NAACP, praised the proposed resolution, calling it "long overdue" and offering his organization's help to assist with implicit bias training.
As Duluth becomes more diverse - with growing LGBTQ , Hmong, Latino, Muslim, African American and other minority communities - Witherspoon said it's important to strive for cohesion.
"We don't want to co-exist. We want to live in harmony and work with each other," he said. "Everybody deserves dignity and respect - that's a no-brainer."
The proposed resolution "reaffirms Duluth's commitment to the values of inclusion, equity and justice" and calls for "greater community understanding."
In laying out the need for increased efforts to be more inclusive, the resolution points not only to the recent appearance of racist posters in the community, but also "racist and homophobic graffiti in local high schools."
The proposed resolution notes that "more than three-quarters of Duluth's black and indigenous populations live in our western neighborhoods, while other racial groups are more evenly dispersed throughout the entire city." These concentrations were no result of happenstance, according to the resolution, which instead described it as "a legacy of redlining and discriminatory lending."
Witherspoon said he considers the resolution and the ongoing discussion about disparities a call to action.
"We encourage non-people of color to stand up to racism whenever they see it, because as people of color, we deal with it every day. It's never 'isolated' to us," he said.