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DULUTH - Mayor Don Ness spoke out against the alleged assault by a police officer Monday as members of the Native American community rallied for change.
Following the release of a video that shows an alleged fifth degree assault of a Native American man by Duluth police officer Richard Jouppi, community members said it was time to stand up against a pattern.
"The citizens here of the Indian community of Duluth have known for years that this type of behavior has been going on," Native American Spiritual Leader Skip Sandman said.
The group claimed continued mistreatment to their people and questioned why a greater charge was not handed down to the officer.
"We need to draw attention to what is really going on," Sandman said.
Duluth Mayor Don Ness said he understood why people were angry and called the actions "unacceptable."
However, he said the police department acted quickly and appropriately, knowing the actions were far outside department guidelines.
Ness said the correct actions were being taken.
"I think it's certainly my position and the position of Chief Ramsay and others that this officer needs to be terminated," Ness said.
As for the fifth degree assault charge, Ness said it came from specific guidelines in the law and was handed down by an independent attorney separate from the city.
He said emotions can run high after such an event, but that he hoped it would not force people to lose sight of how the law works and the city's position for equality.
"Certainly we have an open door policy," Ness said. "We always welcome folks to come in and express how they're feeling or what their concerns are."
However, for the Native American community rallying Monday, the open door policy may not have been enough.
"We're not second class citizens, we're first people," Sandman said. "We will always be here, but we demand justice."