New Campaign Brings Backlash to Duluth Mayor

By KBJR News 1

January 30, 2012 Updated Jan 30, 2012 at 7:58 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Last Thursday a new campaign rolled out in Duluth, hoping to battle racism on all levels.

That campaign has sparked a backlash, including messages sent to the Mayor of Duluth.

"I've been getting really threatening and ugly emails from all over the world," said Duluth Mayor Don Ness.

Those messages, says Mayor Ness, have come from White Supremacist groups.

One of the sites we tracked down actually called upon people to contact Mayor Ness, voicing their discontent with his support of the Un-Fair Campaign; even telling them exactly how they can reach the Mayor.

Mayor Ness says he feels the message of the campaign may be misunderstood by some.

"They think this is calling every white person racist and it doesn't it says racism exists, it's a problem in our nation and in our community and that white people have a role in being part of the solution," said Mayor Ness.

In a recent Northland Voices program, organizers of the campaign say they anticipated the edgy campaign could create backlash, but that it was an issue too important not to address head on.

"We have been socialized to not see the privilege in the system for us and until we can see it and understand it...we are not saying most people are conscious of this. In fact it stays the way it is because people are unconscious and we really want to raise this consciousness," said Sheryl Bowman with the Duluth Human Rights Commission.

As for Mayor Ness, he says he stands strong in his support for the campaign, hoping it opens up more doors for people of all races to take a stand against racism in all forms.

"It can be intimidating but you can't let yourself be intimidated by it otherwise it just encourages that type of behavior," said Mayor Ness.

Written for the web by Elayne Crecelius
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