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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Movement

The Occupy movement has been interesting, yet challenging to deal with as police chief.  Group members truly believe in their cause and want things to change. Most of the members have been good to work with.  A few members are very challenging and feel that the only way to further their cause is to force confrontation and be arrested.  The unfortunate thing is the City has worked in earnest to get them compliant with City ordinances, but yet they do not appreciate that. 

Myself, other police chiefs and city officials around the country have found working with a "leaderless group" is difficult.   Some members of the group feel they have been misled by the police department.  While our message was consistent after we learned the plan was to make this a long term protest, we found that unless things were written down the message often got lost or misinterpreted.  I talked to two group members who were very understanding of the need to follow City ordinances, but these guys had just gotten involved in the last few days. 
 
I have been told by many group members about the problems of homelessness and how it needs to be a priority of government.  A few were surprised when I told them about our efforts in collaboration with CHUM and out reach workers to help find homeless supportive housing.  We have a couple of officers who spend a fair amount of their time on this effort as it reduces crime and increases the quality life for everyone.  They did not know Duluth was leading the way in this effort and has been awarded State grants based on our success. I discovered just as many of the group members think we don't know about their underlying reasons for protest, they don't know what the police department's efforts are to make this a better place for everyone.  Several of our initiatives surprised them and it made me realize we need to do more to let people know the police of today are a lot more than just crime prevention and arresting crooks.

2 comments:

  1. I am very happy to learn about this page, Chief Ramsay. I would love to have a link or more information on the programs for the homeless you mentioned, so I can share this information with others. Dialogue and sharing of information is the very best way of clearing up misinformation and false assumptions. The truth is easily distorted, as we all know.

    I know it will be extremely unlikely to have a police officer attend the occasional Occupy Duluth General Assembly (a fond wish of mine which I shared yesterday with you), at least we can have dialogue here.

    Sincerely, Diane

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  2. Chief Ramsey,

    At first, our police were very supportive of the Occupy Duluth movement in the beginning. I am very disappointed the way the two eviction threats had been sprung through the media. I know there were some challenging members but that comes with anything. The March 21, 2012 review seemed to be empty words as did other promises about ordinances. Allowing peaceful assembly as a right anytime for grievances should supersede ordinance when we need change. To be constructive and transparent in communication in the future would be a the start of the change people would like to see to build a better world. This goes for the rest of our humble civil servants who want what's best for our community and our children.

    Peace Be With You,
    Chad

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