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ACLU to close Bemidji racial discrimination office for budget reasons

An American Civil Liberties Union office in Bemidji, which has focused on racial disparities in northern Minnesota since 2004, will close at the end of October.

The Bemidji Pioneer reports that the closing is part of the ACLU’s efforts to cut costs, which will include staff pay cuts in other offices.

Much of the Bemidji office’s work over the years has involved racial profiling against American Indians and high incarceration rates.

An ACLU office in Mankato that focuses on discrimination against immigrants will remain open.

The ACLU says on its website that the Greater Minnesota Racial Justice Project in Bemidji was begun to provide “public education on issues of racial justice through community outreach, complaint intake, and court monitoring.”

Audrey Thayer, the Bemidji project coordinator, said more work is needed in the area and that she “urges people in their 20s to become active in fighting for racial justice; to move from small-town thinking to thinking globally,” the newspaper said.

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