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Bemidji Mayor describes reasons for curfew, shares support for Saturday's protest in statement

Rita Albrecht WEB.jpg

BEMIDJI -- Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht described the reason for this weekend's city-wide nightly curfews in a social media statement Sunday.

The first curfew was established on Saturday, in place from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday morning. Another curfew will take place tonight, May 31, with residents to stay home from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday morning.

Albrecht said the decision to call for curfews followed consultations with both the city police chief and city manager. In her statement, Albrecht thanked those who stayed home Saturday night to help protect citizens, businesses and public assets.

"The implementation of a curfew yesterday and today is not in reaction to peaceful protests, but in response to a specific series of credible threats to property and people," Albrecht said. "We share your pain, sorrow and disgust at the violent death of George Floyd and we join you in demanding justice. We support and honor your cries of anguish and your peaceful protests. We also acknowledge the truth of historical injustice and structural racism in the United States in general and Beltrami County in particular."

Albrecht continued in the statement and said, "it is our duty to respond to threatening individuals or groups to keep Bemidji safe."

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In addition to the curfew, Albrecht said the city asked for assistance from other area law enforcement agencies and had staffing at the fire department facilities overnight in case there was a need for rapid response.

Along with describing the city's response, Albrecht also addressed posts on social media.

"We are aware of multiple inaccurate rumors on social media that can lead to misunderstandings and violence," Albrecht said. "The city did not request, nor do we condone, vigilantes patrolling within the city limits, now or any time."

A peaceful protest did take place in Bemidji Saturday at Paul Bunyan Park. Over the course of the demonstration, hundreds of participants marched from the park to the Bemidji Police Department to show solidarity for George Floyd.

Floyd, 46, died last Monday when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd's neck, despite repeated requests for the officer to stop.

"No city or law enforcement department has a perfect record with regards to minority policing, including Bemidji," Albrecht said. "It is our sincere goal to recognize the failures of the past to help our community heal and improve through community engagement, training and understanding. It is our pledge to continue those efforts and to make Bemidji a healthy, happy and peaceful community."

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
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