Police brutality highlighted through #saytheirname posters

 Posters showing victims of police brutality are displayed around the Multicultural Center. Photo by Karli Kruse

Posters showing victims of police brutality are displayed around the Multicultural Center. Photo by Karli Kruse

Say their name. Say it louder. This is what Minnesota Public Interest Research Group continues to say about police brutality victims from around the United States. Posters are showcased in the multicultural center as a response to Duluth Police Department receiving riot gear.

Each poster contains the name of the victim, their photo and #saytheirname written on the poster. The photos, printed in black and white, cover the walls and pillars throughout the multicultural center. The posters aimed to represent the voices and response of the students at UMD.

“We won’t forget them and there’s a story behind why we don’t want the riot gear,” Mary Franz, a student director of MPIRG at UMD, said.

Initially, the posters were taped up on the walls of the bus hub and in the stairway that leads to the main hallway of Kirby around 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 22. Within an hour, the posters were taken down, according to Becky Green, one of two social justice task force leaders for MPIRG.

Due to school rules, which restrict the content of posters and how many posters can be hung up in the designated poster areas, as Green explains, MPIRG students had to move the posters to the multicultural center.  

“This is the only place that it stood the test of time,” Franz said, in reference to the multicultural center.

According to Green, it is hard to say how many students saw the posters, but she believes it caught the attention of people going to 8 a.m. classes.

Franz explains that the students involved in setting up the posters wanted to send a larger message to the student body.

 Posters showing victims of police brutality are displayed around the Multicultural Center. Photo by Karli Kruse

Posters showing victims of police brutality are displayed around the Multicultural Center. Photo by Karli Kruse

“We need to put more pressure on ourselves to pay attention,” Franz said.

The majority of people killed were unarmed. Green explains how the main reason surrounding their death was skin color, sexual identity and other identifying features.

“The multicultural center recognizes the need and the hurt that’s inside us from DPD getting riot gear,” Azrin Awal, a co-chair member of MPIRG, said.

Awal stresses the importance of the #saytheirname posters because it enables people to think about the injustices that occur every day. She also notes that the posters can enable students to think about the greater purpose, which could be to create a stronger community and inclusion.

“I can’t just go out there and be myself all the time in my classrooms,” Awal said. “I’ll try, but I know that I’m always going to face judgement, discrimination, racism and oppression.”

The posters not only present victims of police brutality, but also aid students in thinking deeper about the oppression that surrounds people every day – whether that is in the school or in the community – as expressed by Awal, Franz and Green.

In Duluth, according to Franz, the homeless population experiences the most harassment from police officers. For this reason, the Homeless Bill of Rights was created in order to protect homeless civilians. Franz explains that there is a difficult relationship between the police officers and the community members of areas like West Duluth and Lincoln park.

The posters will remain up in the multicultural center for the rest of November.

NewsSkylar Neuber