On Tuesday, September 15th, 2020 there was a BLM protest in Duluth. While the scene itself has received its fair share of news coverage, there is one thing that hasn’t received any news coverage – the Duluth Police Department. Overall, I am impressed with how the Duluth Police Department handled the entire event and Duluthians should be proud of their police department.
When the protest kicked off, the police officers were clearly there to protect the protestors and ensure they can exercise their first amendment rights. The officers cordoned off the area and ensured that the protest had plenty of space to safely have their event. More importantly, though, the officers gave the protestors their space and left them alone. When the protest became mobile, the officers expertly moved with them, keeping cars out of the way and keeping their space. It’s clear that there was a great amount of coordination among the officers and they worked well as a team to do their jobs safely.
Eventually, the BLM protestors encountered Trump supporters also exercising their 1st Amendment Rights. Rather than trampling on somebody’s rights, the Duluth Police Department did the right thing and let both groups protest. They knew a potentially volatile situation was brewing, but also knew that knowing when not to act is just as important as when to act. The officers observed from afar as the two groups yelled at each other and tried to provoke each other. The officers ensured that both groups were able to exercise their rights.
When the shouting became punching, the officers stepped into keep the peace. Instead of doing nothing like we see so many times in cities like Portland or Seattle, the Duluth Police Department stepped in when they needed to and arrested the guilty party. The officers were fair and objective and arrested the 1 person who attacked a Trump supporter.
What was more impressive than the fact that the cops became involved only when they had to and arrested the person who started the whole thing, was how the police officers handled the situation after they made their arrest. As they put that young girl in handcuffs, she screamed bloody murder as if she was being abused, but it was clear she was not. The police officers calmly and carefully placed her inside of the squad car, even though she was anything but calm or careful. While they were arresting her the protestors turned their focus on the police officers and began yelling and chanting at the officers. The protestors were trying to accomplish two things: first, they were trying to force the police officers to release their friend, and second, they were trying to get the police officers to react in a negative way so they could use that officer as propaganda in their protests. Due to the professionalism of the Duluth Police Department, neither of those things happened. The entire time the police were calm and professional and relied on their department leadership to talk to and control the crowd. In the end, after they realized that their friend wasn’t going to get released and the cops weren’t going to react to their chants, the protest was effectively over. Watching the live stream suddenly became awkward as the protest suddenly became a bunch of woke white kids standing around asking “now what do we do?”
Duluth should be proud of their officers and how they handled the chain of events that day. Any wrong move could have made Duluth the next city to be burned to the ground by out of state protestors. Instead, the calm steady hand of the police department kept the peace while allowing all citizens to exercise their 1st Amendment Rights. All Duluthians should be proud and the actions of our police department should be recognized.