DECRIMINALIZING COLOR: NAACP hosts rally addressing racial disparities

DECRIMINALIZING COLOR: NAACP hosts rally addressing racial disparities
Published: Sep. 24, 2022 at 7:05 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 24, 2022 at 10:54 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) - The Duluth Branch NAACP hosted their second annual “Decriminalizing Color Rally” Saturday.

The rally is an effort to address racial disparities in the Northland.

Speakers and organizations joined the rally to show their support for ending policies that target communities of color. Among the speakers was Del Shea Perry, the President of “Be Their Voices,” which fights for better conditions for people in custody.

“Still we fight,” Perry said.

“Be Their Voices” began in 2018, after the death of Perry’s son, Hardel Sherrell, while he was in jail.

“And before you knew it, it was just kind of, a revolving door of people calling me all the time asking me if I could help them,” she said.

After her son’s passing in a Beltrami County Jail, she worked to get legislation passed to address the living conditions of people in police custody.

“Getting a bill passed is just the beginning of change,” she continued.

In her opinion, Saturday’s events help bring about change in a community where just over 2% of the population is Black, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“It’s people like them that help me, that encourage me to keep the fight going,” Perry said.

Among several issues discussed, stopping pretextual stops was a main theme. Pretextual stops are a technique used by officers to stop people they suspect of breaking the law, according to the NYU School of Law.

“Feeling like people can feel safe, that they’re able to participate in their community and they’re gonna have their rights the same as a person not of color,” Lindsey Lee, a member of the Duluth Branch NAACP, said.

Lee was out on 1st Street Saturday to have people add to an art project. The hanging, wood piece shows “BLACK LIVES MATTER” on a large piece of wood, with smaller pieces people can write their answer to a prompt on.

“Answering the question ‘what does a safe community feel like to you?’” she said.

She plans to donate it to the Duluth PD soon.

“I’ve got some brackets so it should be easy to hang immediately upon arrival, and we’ll present it to the police department,” she said.

But the main message that echoed at Saturday’s rally was a loud one.

“You know the end to racism, it must stop,” Perry said, “you know, each one of us should care because it affects all of us.”

In a statement to KBJR 6, Duluth PD responded to the NAACP’s rally saying “The Duluth Police Department looks forward to having conversations with the NAACP.”