Community Members Voice Opinions About Duluth Police Buying Protective Gear

Ryan Juntti
Updated: March 01, 2018 12:18 AM

DULUTH - Community members spoke on Wednesday night at the Duluth City Hall about the proposed plan for the Duluth Police Department to purchase $125,000 of protective gear.

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The plan had previously been put on hold because of community members expressing concerns, which was the reason for the meeting on Wednesday night.   

Kelsey Jones-Casey is a representative from Showing Up for Racial Justice, and is against DPD having the protective gear because she sees it as an issue of racial justice against black and indigenous people.

"Equipping police with riot gear will only make people of color and indigenous people more vulnerable to violence by police," said Jones-Casey.

Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken responded to Jones-Casey's assertions, saying, "We look at this as the people are the police, and the police are the people."

Other community members like Sydney Zwak, who is the daughter of Lt. Ken Swak of the Duluth Police Department, say it is necessary for the department to have the gear.

"I am here asking you to please give my dad and his partners the proper equipment to not only keep my dad and his partners safe, but to be able to do their very hard and dangerous job better," said Zwak. 

Tusken wants people to know the gear would not be used in any peaceful demonstration situations.

"This is for really a finite concern where you have a criminal unlawful assembly going on where there is perhaps property damage, or there are people who are being put in danger, or in harms way where you have to be protected to keep people safe or property safe," said Tusken.

He says the department having the gear is more of a preventative measure than anything else.

"We will be equipped, we will be trained, and we will be on the ready should we ever need it," said Tusken.


Ryan Juntti

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