The protest actions resulted merely in delay, as the council ultimately voted 6-2 to approve a controversial purchase of equipment for the Duluth Police Department.
Ironically, the protest was sparked by a proposal to purchase riot gear for Duluth police in the event unruly crowds present a problem some day. Yet no one on the city council summoned the courage to call in the police to restore order in their own chambers.
Unable to proceed with a public comment period above the din, [Council President Noah] Hobbs asked councilors if they wished to remove the gear resolution from the table.
The council voted 6-2 by a show of hands to remove it from the table, then by the same 6-2 margin to approve it. Councilors Gary Anderson and Joel Sipress voted in the minority. Councilor Em Westerlund was absent, due to a prior commitment.
The vote elicited both applause and jeering — an indication of the divided sentiment in the room — although supporters of the purchase were outnumbered.
The protesters continued to shout and scream while several in black outfits and masks strolled menacingly in front of the seated council members. Yet rather than criticize the lack of civility and mob mentality on display, far leftist city councilor Dave Sipress blamed the outcome on the process.
“I would have preferred to have seen an inclusive community process launched months ago, so that in the end, if the decision was made to move forward with this purchase, at least it would have happened in a way in which people felt as though their concerns were taken to heart. And out of that process, we could have brought forward a meaningful policy regarding the use of this equipment at the same time we voted on this purchase. I think it was a lost opportunity,” he said.
In fact, Duluth city officials have bent over backwards holding public meetings for citizens to express their views on whether the police force should be adequately equipped to protect themselves in worst case scenarios. The way Duluth City Council meetings are conducted these days, the cops just might need it sooner than they think.