Racism has been a major topic of conversation in Duluth lately as a result of a billboard campaign against racism launched by the Un-Fair Campaign. Seeking to take advantage of the reactionary backlash on the part of some against the campaign, the Supreme White Alliance held a tiny protest at the Duluth Civic Center on March 3 that was met by over 150 counter-protesters.
Despite cold temperatures and heavy snowfall, a number of anti-racist actions took place throughout the morning. For example, at 8:30am a group of activists from the Twin Cities held a march from the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, and Occupy Duluth and Food Not Bombs held a 9am rally at the MN Power Plaza.
Beginning at 8:30am a group of Anishinabe, and their supporters, held an action at the Civic Center around a sacred staff called "Little Boy Thunder". The staff had been placed there in November in the wake of the police shut down the Occupy Duluth encampment. The goal of the Anishinabe action was to both protect the staff from being desecrated, and to hold a ceremony rejecting racism. The local Native Americans, and a contingent from the American Indian Movement, formed a circle around the sacred staff, while allies and peace keepers were invited to form a circle around them in turn.
By the time the neo-nazi rally was to begin at 10am over 150 anti-racist protesters had gathered at the Civic Center. It would be another half hour before a small group of about seven racists got out of their cars and marched up to the top of the City Hall steps. Counter-protesters quickly moved to the steps of the City Hall and formed a ring around the neo-nazis, chanting anti-racist slogans. Police formed a line in front of the City Hall, but declined to stand in between the neo-nazis and the counter-protesters. Four counter-protesters were arrested for throwing snowballs. The four were taken inside City Hall, booked, and then released.
Leading up to the event, there was a major discussion among activists about what the best response to the neo-nazis would be. While many advocated that the Supreme White Alliance should be ignored, we believe that it is important to counter-protest whenever racists and fascists hold public events. In our view, it's not that the far right doesn't have the right to free speech, but we need to be sure to vigorously exercise our right to free speech whenever they raise their heads. It's crucial to mobilize as many people as possible against racist rallies in order to show that our communities repudiate their message, to demoralize the racists, and to interfere with their organizing and recruitment efforts. The Northern Worker salutes all of the counter-protesters who turned out on March 3. Thank you!