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Students, community members march in Duluth against racism

A line of people stretching more than two blocks are marching from Duluth's Washington Center to the University of Minnesota Duluth to protest racism.

Marchers leave this morning from the Washington Center in downtown Duluth for a rally at the University Of Minnesota Duluth against racism. (Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com)

A line of people stretching more than two blocks are marching from Duluth's Washington Center to the University of Minnesota Duluth to protest racism.

"We're doing it because racism is prevalent in all facets of life," said Ryan Salay, one of the event's organizers. "We want to increase awareness. We think it is very necessary to march for this."

The march was organized by the Student Coalition Against Racism in response to an April 14 incident in which two white female students allegedly engaged in a Facebook wall discussion about a black female student who had entered the UMD study lounge they were in. The social networking site allowed the conversation to be seen by their Facebook friends, and it quickly spread. The racist conversation included several slurs.

Many of the marchers are wearing black to symbolize solidarity with UMD students and are marching in silence to symbolize the silence of oppression.

"I think there are a lot of people hurting right now and they need all the support they can get," said UMD student and marcher Tim Davis. "It's important for the community to come out."


The marchers included Mayor Don Ness and officials from UMD, including Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin, who has called the April 14 incident "horrendous and despicable."

This morning, while marching, Martin said that society all too often moves from incident to incident without thinking about what is happening every day between.

"I hope this supports us to a different level of constant consideration," she said. "I'm hopeful we're serious about the challenge ahead of us."

UMD is investigating the April 14 incident but finds itself in uncertain territory without a policy that deals directly with social networking behavior on UMD's online network. UMD has a zero-tolerance policy on racist behavior, included in its Student Conduct Code and U of M Regents policy. Martin said today that the investigation is ongoing.

There will be a protest at UMD's Sports and Health Center after the marchers arrive on campus. The marchers are walking along Fourth Street to Woodland, will go up Woodland Avenue to College Street and then to University Drive, which they will follow through the campus to Ordean Court and the Sports and Health Center.

Events were planned at other schools in support of the march.

At the College of St. Scholastica a one-hour rally on the front lawn of the science was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Around 11 a.m., students and supporters will leave CSS, marching east on College Street to join with the UMD marchers.

"We cannot sit back in silence any longer," CSS organizer Dylan Kesti said in a news release. "This is an opportunity to stand with our fellow students and community to pursue the future we believe in."


Also in support of SCAR's efforts, students at the University of Wisconsin-Superior were scheduled to march from the library to Old Main on that campus at 10 a.m.

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