The American Civil Liberties Union plans to close its Bemidji office by the end of the month due to budget cutbacks.
The ACLU is tightening budgets across the state and all staff will be taking a pay cut, according to the Bemidji Pioneer.
During the past nine years, the office worked to reduce racial disparities faced by communities of color, notably the American Indian population, in Beltrami, Becker, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard, Itasca and Mahnomen counties, as well as the Red Lake, White Earth and Leech Lake Nations.
The ACLU office in Bemidji was started in 2004 as part of the Greater Minnesota Racial Justice Project. It provides public education on issues of racial justice through community outreach, complaint intake and court monitoring.
Unlike many nonprofit organizations, the ACLU is not eligible for government grants. The project was supported by donations and member contributions.
Project coordinator Audrey Thayer said the office worked to promote political candidates that supported racial justice. It also worked to expand the arts community, exploring the difference between diversity and justice.
The ACLU maintains it remains committed to fighting for racial justice in Minnesota both at the capitol and in the courts.