When it comes to the City of Duluth leaders speaking out about the recent gun violence in our city, you can almost make out the sound of crickets between the pistol pops.
In the last week, 5 shots fired/shootings have been reported in Duluth, with the most recent happening last night. In the past month there have been 9 incidents, a shocking and unprecedented number of gun violence police calls in Duluth, yet, the city “leaders” are silent.
Of the calls in the last seven days, only ONE arrest has been made. But don’t worry folks, as long as you don’t go out at 8 PM or live on the hillside between Gary and Chester Park, you’ll probably be fine.
Ironically, the Mayor was holding regular COVID briefings when cases in our region were minuscule but hasn’t popped on a Zoom call once in the last month to explain why gun violence is exploding in her city.
As a comparison, in the last week, Minneapolis (according to their online crime tracker) reported 15 “assault with a deadly weapon” and four “assault with significant bodily harm” crimes. The weapon may not have been a gun in all of these cases, their tracking system didn’t offer details of each call. In Duluth, three of the calls in the past week resulted in “significant bodily harm”.
While we don’t have any information on who is behind the shootings happening around town, it’s pretty clear to see that down the hill, Duluth is going downhill. Homelessness, drug use, and crime are exploding downtown, lured to Duluth by the generous city and county services we provide. But Duluth can’t be both the Welfare Capital of the state and the state’s favorite tourism destination. The two don’t jive.
Tourists want to travel to places that are safe. People want to live in places that are safe. Own businesses – where it’s safe. Have and grow families where it’s SAFE. If the past week’s headlines tell us anything it’s that Duluth is NOT SAFE.
It’s only a matter of time before we see the headline of a stray bullet killing an innocent person or child. At the same time, our police department is facing the same hate and backlash as the officers in Minneapolis, amplifying their concerns for themselves, their departments, and their families. Second-guessing their instincts and training because they are worried that even doing what they are supposed to do could lead to something as drastic and confounding as their city burning. Recently a Duluth Police Officer shared his experience with the shots fired incident that took place on August 27th in a Facebook Post – the content of which is so important that we’ll share it here in its entirety:
Last night my world and my entire family’s world almost changed forever. I almost shot an “unarmed black man.” My partner got on the radio and told us a shooting was happening right in front of her very eyes. Shot after shot rang out in our community we have sworn to protect. 17 shots in all were fired and now people were fleeing everywhere. My partners all went towards the gunshots, no race was said, no thought of our own safety was contemplated. We went because that is what we are called to do. We must help our community no matter who is in danger and no matter the risk. My partners found two of the suspects, and I rushed to help them as they are yelling they are not complying and now they are fighting. Where are the guns used? Do they have them? Are they going to try and kill my partners? All thoughts as I pull up and see my partners on the ground fighting with one male, a black man. Another black man is near them and turns to run as i approach. My partners yell “stop him.”
I yell for him to stop and he turns and runs. Where is the gun? Does he still have it? Is he going to shoot me? My partners? Is he an innocent person just out for a walk? I give chase, he continues to run around a corner. Is he going to ambush me when I turn the corner? Where is the gun? My partners are yelling for more officers. The male keeps running until I and my partner gain ground on him and he stops. “Get your hands in the air!” He does not. “Get on the ground!” He does not. Where is the gun?!!!!! He turns his back hiding his hands from us, still not listening to commands. Where is the gun?!!!! I level my pistol at him. I put my finger on the trigger. Is this it? Is he going to shoot us? Am I going to have to shoot this man to save myself and others??? Will my wife wake up a widow, will my children no longer have their father? Is our community going to change forever because of me? Will everything burn only because we want to help? Because we want to live and not die? Because we don’t want to see innocent people in our community die. All of this in about 1/2 a second… My partner attempts to tackle him and now we fight because he is still not listening. I almost shot an “unarmed black man.” Why was he unarmed? Because (unknown to me at the time) when he ran and turned the corner in front of me, he threw the stolen gun he was carrying in the bushes.
When the dust settled officers had cuts and bruises and two multi convicted felons went to jail unharmed, but it was only 1/16 of a squeeze from changing our world forever. All of this while you slept comfortably in your homes, safe from the wolves who roam our streets. You will not hear this story on the news. No one will call national attention to it. No one will say anything about this night. We simply just dust ourselves off, make sure each of us is ok and go on to the next call. This is what happens all across this country more often than you could ever imagine, but we are racist, we have to change. There must be accountability. Police must be defunded? Each and every day we dust each other off, make sure we are ok and go out into our communities and do the right thing. As the media, professional athletes, politicians, and social media warriors bash us day in and day out. Our promise to you as officers each day is that we will dust each other off, make sure we are ok, and go out into our community and die trying to make sure you are safe while you sleep in peace at night. I almost shot an “unarmed black man” last night. I challenge anyone to get out of your comfort zone and ride with us. Take a day in our shoes and see what it is really like. The truth, the unedited truth. We ask for nothing in return other than allowing the truth to come out. Wait for the facts. Stop destroying us before we even have a chance! Stop pushing the false narrative. Stand with us, help us! We are not heroes, we are men and women who just want to do the right thing.DPD Police Sergeant
This Facebook post quickly went viral in the Duluth region with no acknowledgement from the Mayor or City Council– unless you count the pseudo apology Chief Mike Tusken posted a couple days later explaining why he shared the post but adding in the now required systemic racism and social justice vocabulary.
“We are in a period of long-overdue social justice change. Police need to be better and policies and practices need to change. Systemic racism is in numerous institutions and must end. Breaking down barriers to accessing employment, education, healthcare, and housing must be a priority. We must heal and come together and move forward as a nation. Moving forward means we lead with our hearts and listen, hear, and understand each other by respecting and embracing what makes us the same and different and build a deep appreciation for one and other.”DPD Chief Mike Tusken
Here’s the bottom line. Duluth is special. Duluth has the potential to be not only the travel destination for Minnesota families in the summertime but to be a national tourist destination. Over thirty years ago what we know as Canal Park was a junkyard full of broken-down vehicles. Mayor John Fedo and those around him had a vision and worked to make Duluth special. They created opportunities for tourism and all the businesses that support it. With the exception of a few bike paths that cost more than they make, what have the last couple Mayors added to that vision to keep Duluth a destination?
The difference was that John Fedo was a business person. Duluth hasn’t had a business-savvy person leading the city since, and it shows.
Any community can take better care of its citizens – rich or poor – if they have a strong, stable base with jobs that support families and taxes that don’t kill businesses and homeowners. These things haven’t been a priority for Duluth city leadership in years. We don’t need “emotional intelligence” at the helm we need tough love, business acumen, and a leader that ensures we feel safe in our own communities.
The dangerous trend that is growing on our hillside isn’t going to go away on its own. It’s time for Emily Larson and the city council to give the DPD the support they need to crack down on these shootings before an unspeakable tragedy happens. The stain of a shooting tragedy and a silent mayor in Duluth won’t bode well for Mayor Larson’s political aspirations – being appointed to Amy Klobuchar’s seat if Biden gets elected.
This week’s shooting events
|8/27/2020 2:20AM||2nd Ave E in #3 Alley||Officer witnessed multiple shots fired (17) from 2 vehicles. Officers pursued. 30 year old male arrested. At least one other suspect at-large.||No||1 arrested, others at large|
|8/27/2020 8:30PM||400 Block of E 8th St||Officers respond to find injured||22 year old with gunshot wounds to arm and back, 21 year old with non-threatening injuries||No reported arrests|
|8/29/2020 8:15PM||2400 & 2600 block of W. 1st Street||Multiple shots fired between 2 moving vehicles||No||Not located|
|8/30/20 4:30AM||20 Block of W 11th Street||Multiple shots fired before several vehicles fled||No||Not located|
|9/2/2020 11:48PM||20 Block W of Village View Drive||Multiple Shots fired, Police pulled over vehicle at 4th E & 4th, victim with gunshot wounds driving||Yes, 28 year old with gunshot wounds||Not located|