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WTF Charlie?


DNT: Do you think crime is getting worse in Duluth?

Charlie Bell: Yes.

DNT: Why so?

Charlie Bell: I think people have moved into Duluth that don’t belong here. I think we see people walking the streets that don’t fit the identities, that don’t fit what we normally have, don’t fit the citizens that have lived here for years and years. They do stand out.

Read the whole interview regarding crime in Duluth with Charlie Bell and Don Ness here.


This line of thinly veiled bigotry is getting tiresome.

Why did the original title of this post get changed. It was something to the effect of "Charlie Bell hates black people (and poor people)."

He goes on to say, "I think people have moved here from other places in this country. From Detroit, in Mississippi, for reasons that I think we can discuss and talk about.'


Actually, it doesn't hurt that Charlie Bell is willing to say out loud every stupid, biased, thing that he thinks. Truth in advertising...

The "don't fit what we normally have" comment is actually from this earlier interview here:

I did originally title this post "Charlie Bell Hates Black People (and Poor People)" in Kanye West fashion re: George Bush. What Kanye West actually said was "George Bush doesn't care about Black people" so the reference didn't make sense. So I decided to let Charlie Bell's words speak for themselves.

Mr. Bell = Ding Dong

Who will define who fits the mold of acceptable newcomers?

As a newcomer, I now wonder if I fit Mr. Ding Dong's criteria.

When I attended UMD I use to eat my lunch in the quite balcony of the theatre. One day I was spying on a meeting that the chancellor was having and he was describing the ethnic population of the university and he said, "Duluth's idea of a minority is a brunette."

I have no interest in defending Bell's remarks. I would like to point out, however, that Ness also uses euphemisms in his discussion of crime. This is from the same article.

Q: Can you talk more about what you would do to reduce crime?

Don Ness: One strategy is, you have a problem area — whether it be the 100 block of East First Street or some of the other problem blocks in Central Hillside or Lincoln Park — and you have an overwhelming presence in those problem areas of officers in the streets. And you keep them there for a month, two months, however long it takes to make sure that those problems get uprooted and are moved somewhere else, and then you follow that up with going to the next place and having that overwhelming presence in that particular neighborhood, so that … [drug dealers] can never feel settled and they never feel comfortable in the city of Duluth.

Who are the people you see hanging around on the "problem block" of 100 East First Street? Poor Blacks and Native Americans, for the most part. Don doesn't have to say it directly, just like Bell doesn't have to. Everybody visualizes the same thing.

The difference, Cheerleader, is that Bell is referring to people who don't "fit in", whereas Ness is talking about problem areas of town. There's no denying that there are areas where there are more drug dealers and problems like that, that aren't as prevalent in other areas of town.

There *are* problem areas.

The line between what they're saying is thin, but Ness is still definitely not as outright upsetting as Bell, in this case.

i better get over to the duluthcitizensblog. i can't wait to hear the intellectual commentary on this one!

Oh boy, those folks at the bog will love it. They're going to rail on about how Charlie never actually said anything about race..and how folks always play the race card. Just wait. I'm thinking this is the death knell for Ding Dong. He's smart enough not to wear a pointy hat, but he just doesn't have control of his mouth. Good thing he's so dense.

i'm glad to know that both candidates are misinformed about crime levels in the city.

I spent the first 18 years of my life, in the 80s and 90s, growing up in a big, very racially and class-segregated city on the Mason-Dixon line. In this city, racial profiling (a very tangible form of racist oppression) was common and justified by claiming a need to combat drug dealers (read: blacks). In this city, riots took place after 16 blacks (and no people of other races) died in police custody in the span of two years - some murdered in cold blood - and the police never, ever faced consequences. In this city, certain neighborhoods (the black, poor ones) were considered high-crime areas ("problem areas" in Duleuphamism) and inadequately serviced by staple businesses that could have provided jobs. The solution of this city was to use the police as a occupation force in the neighborhoods ("overwhelming presence" in Duleuphamism) rather than providing the neighborhoods with desperately-needed development, money and services.

It's nice to see the two schmucks we have running for mayor want to move Duluth in the direction of my former home.

Nice picture of Bell.

We don't take kindly to yer KIND around here.

When Charly beatz Donnie i hope he kix all u druggy LIBRIZ outta hear LOL

Thanks for that link, Maria--that was an interesting read.

i think the most interesting part about Charlie's response was that, even though the truth about the dropping crime rate was on the DNT Opinion pages a few weeks ago, he still insisted on the falsehood. so either he doesn't pay attention, the interview came before that information was released, or he simply knows that his constituency doesn't give a damn about the facts. (that last seems most logical to me.) see it's what you *feel* that counts--if i'm more afraid or uncomfortable (due to changing demographics), there must be a logical reason, and so therefore crime MUST be up, because i wouldn't be afraid for NO REASON.

the tell is when he is asked for stats, but sticks to what people *feel.*

i'm not sure Donny was inaccurate when he was saying that certain drug crimes are up--that was unclear on the basis of this article, and the last one (Oct. 21) had a quote from Ramsay:
“The majority of our crime continues to be people who know each other or drug-related incidents or relative-related things.” So Donny may have received information as a city councilor that separated out that type of information in context. i dunno.

the thing is, drug crimes, when you take out the violence, gun possession/threats, and theft (all categories of crime that are DOWN), you're left with possession and sale. not a lot of victims involved in there, less you're going to get into an argument about addiction.

I stand by my comments.

There is no question that there are blocks in Duluth that have more crime than others. The 100 block of East 1st St is at the top of that list. The question was about crime, my answer was about where crime happens in Duluth, and what we could do about it. The only euphemism that I used to describe crime, was crime itself.

There HAS been an increase in robberies over the past 2 years (each year has been double what it was in 2004). It is my belief that there is a direct connection to the increase in meth use.

I'd be happy to address any other concerns.

Euphemism, now I gotta get out my dictionary again. This guy is too smart for me.

I was just plagiarizing the word that Ramos used to describe my comments in the DNT...

You'll notice that most of my campaign material is taken directly from the Cheerleader blog.

There's a cheerleader blog? And here I thought the Citizens Blog was the only place to find misinformation.

Sheesh Donny! You must be EVERYWHERE! Talk about craziness...I don't think I have the energy it takes to run for office.

Hopefully you can get some rest after celebrating Tuesday night!

Scribbler, if you can find any misinformation on The Cheerleader Blog, I'll be happy to correct it. Knock yourself out at shiningreputation.com/blog.

I will!

I'd also just like to point out that it seems silly that you can't talk about crime issues without it suddenly becoming a bigotry or race issue. WTF is that about?

Are you saying that ALL THE BLACK and/or Native American people live in those areas of town, or that they're all "crimey"? No, it's just that those areas of town *are* more dangerous than other areas. YOU CAN NOT DENY IT. It's not anybody's fault that there happens to be a larger concentration of [what have you]. There are plenty of white assholes down there too.

I wasn't bothered by Donny's comments -- I mean, he has a point, those areas are problem areas. I used to work at Bldg for Women, and if it wasn't those crazy anti choice protesters bugging me, it was the drunks. But Charlie -- what a ding dong -- people from Detroit, people from Mississippi? Say what? Why didn't he just say black people? Like I see so many people from Mississippi walking around Duluth. Please. And he sounded so good at the CSS debate. Every time he opens his mouth, he seems to put his foot in it.

Clearly if you see someone walking around Duluth and they don't seem to "Fit in" it's because they are criminals.

I could not believe my eyes as I read the paper last night. It was one of those things you immediately read to everyone in the room because you can't believe anyone would be dense enough to say it. At the core of what he was trying to say there may be some truth. The fact of the matter is there have been people who have come to Duluth from Chicago or Detroit to sell drugs. I've seen details of their busts in the paper. Perhaps he could have prepared better and actually have cited an example of one of these busts. But instead he goes to this thinly veiled racist blast about people walking the streets that don't look like us...WTF. Perhaps he's taken a page from his Republican cronies and thinks that fear sells. Scare the hell out of the voters and assure them that you are the only candidate that will protect from the gangbangers and the retired city employees. Because if you look past all his negativity and fear-mongering you'll find there isn't much there.

Why isn't anyone else mentioning all those "other" people flooding in from Bismarck?

or the riff raff from Winnipeg...

Hey, I walk around town and feel like I stand out! I'm short and have curly dark hair -- not your typical Duluthian, whatever that is, in Charlie Bell's world. And I grew up in California. Three strikes. I wonder if Mr. Bell has something against me living here too?

Having moved to Japan recently I am suddenly a lot more irritated by xenophobic morons with megaphones.

That being said, what is Bell thinking to accomplish by brining an immigration issue into a mayoral campaign?

Hey, let's build a fence around town! That'll fix everything!

So how many members of PDD are not white?
Any of you? How many non whites are weighing in on the discussion here?

I don't live in Duluth, but have known Don Ness for a long time and wasn't sure who I supported at first, but listened to all the debates and the statements.

It's become clear to me that Mr. Ness has a less offensive communication style. Mr. Bell seems to put his foot in his mouth alot and I think one of the big duties of a Mayor is to refrain from saying things that are inappropriate and then having to spend time digging out.

Crime seems to be trending down, hopefully that will continue. If not I hope that we are capable of separating out factors that lead to crime that are more sophisticated than picking on those who don't look like us.

Having watched the last half hour of the debate on TV I have to say that Bell had a better closing statement than Ness, but on all other counts Bell seemed to be casting about for words and examples. He gave far fewer concrete recommendations and examples than Don. Don seemed to have a better command of the facts.

RE: Dharmachic, whiteness

I am more mauve than white. Actually, a bit peachy with a subtle tone of pancake.

Do I qualify?

I made $31 shuttling around a nonwhite crack dealer from Chicago and his drunk white customer from the boats on Friday night in my taxi. Both were courteous, though the customer would periodically slump over and go to sleep.

How do I know the dealer was from Chicago? Because he said so.

How do I know they were after crack? Because the customer said so. The dealer told him to be quiet.

Both of them thought I was a cool driver, which is the truth.

I'm more translucent than white.

so, what exactly are you saying Cheer?

I'm from Texas.

Claire...well, I don't know Claire, but she's from Cali (not that there's anything wrong with that.)

BFD about the crack. You can hit first and first and find a handful of native duluthians (both white and otherwise...skin color doesn't matter.) who smoke the stuff...and probably another good handful native duluthians who deal it.

As a hack, you've probably seen a pretty good cross section of the dregs of this city...are you going to try to convince me that ALL of the nonwhite crack dealers are from Chicago and that all of the white fares you've carried are fine upstanding citizens, or that only non-transplanted Duluthians are dealing crack?

give me a break. we know better.

I'm not saying any of that. I have had many upstanding nonwhite fares and many terrible white fares. I was just getting tired of all the theoretical arguing going on here, so I decided to provide one concrete anecdote of something that really happened to me this weekend.

For a more detailed discussion of race and taxi driving in Duluth, read "Diamonds Ain't Forever" and "Mayberry" in Issue #4 of The Cheerleader.

but the "concrete anecdote" you're trying to provide is rather biased in itself...and indeed runs right along with what Bell was saying.

(Available for a very reasonable $10 at shiningreputation.com)

I once did a study of one cab driver(Yellow) over a weeks time in Duluth. The bread and butter money in Duluth while driving was paid by white males between 20 and 30 years old. Women in general were small tippers. The driver quit do to having their life threatened by a member of the minority community in Duluth. Later a good friend of that driver was stabbed in the neck by another member of the minority community and almost died.

In rereading my entry, I can find no place where I say that I think people from other places don't belong here. On the contrary, I profited from their presence--both monetarily and in the sense that it gave me life experience to write about. That particular ride was my most interesting of the weekend.

The second most interesting was when a drunk white guy from Minneapolis cranked up my radio without permission and began dancing in the front seat and pushing my arm and shoulder in an effort to get me to dance along with him and I warned him several times not to do that and he said, "Come on, dude" and pushed my shoulder again and I slammed on the brakes and piled him into the windshield, but that doesn't really fit the theme of this discussion.

Read Issue #4 of The Cheerleader.

In defense of Cheer, stating a fact is hard to classify as racist. Stating a group of facts in order to substantiate your racist dogma probably is. The danger does not lie in stating the fact that there are at least a few black crack dealers from Chicago who do business in Duluth. That's not in and of itself racist or bigoted. Anymore than stating there's a some white people born and raised in Duluth selling Meth. When it crosses the line is when you lump everyone of a race together because of the actions of a few. Which to a certain extent is what Charlie did.

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