I want to share a few startling observations I have.
We enter another night of curfew in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding suburbs following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, and the subsequent protests and riots.
I will preface this by saying that I understand the curfew. I understand the huge law enforcement and National Guard presence. I personally would not be out past curfew.
As we witnessed last night, on Saturday, May 30th, a vast majority of the people that were out during the day abided by the curfew.
Of course many people learned the hard way what they will be subjected to if they disobey the curfew. Law enforcement used rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray and perhaps other force to assure those past curfew felt the urgency of their mission to enforce curfew.
My observation is that some in law enforcement, or perhaps the leaders themselves, have an inability to demonstrate discretion. It is a main part of the reason that got us to this point in the first place. Monday night four officers were unable to communicate and use discretion in a way that would have kept George Floyd alive. It’s as if their authority of power and control is they only tool they have. There is no compassion for the other. They lacked ability to deescalate the situation. They lacked ability to use discretion up until and through the minutes that George Floyd was screaming for help and died.
There is the layer of racism that weighs heavily into this of course. That conversation can be had separately, although it’s the combination of racism and lack of compassion, communication, and discretion by law enforcement that ignites the fury.
Here are some examples from last night that are the evidence of my ongoing concern.
People were shot at inside of a medic tent. Volunteers providing first aid to people injured by police were not shown compassion. Can you imagine?
Mike Max interviews Bloomington woman trying to work as a medic describing helping a man who was shot with a rubber bullet and having to flee, then running across the street to help someone else pic.twitter.com/Bgn4Axe0Sk
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) May 31, 2020
Plus several credentialed media members were attacked by police. There is the Los Angeles Times reporter that was among a group of media members that were attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets. There is the reporter from Vice News that was pepper sprayed at point blank range after following all orders by police. And there is the WCCO journalist that was at first being listened to and spared of violence by one officer before being attacked and arrested by others.
It is one thing for media be in a dangerous situation and be injured among a crowd. There is an inherent risk that they assume. But to be singled out and attacked, that is extraordinarily troubling. If we lose our ability for media members to report the news, we lose our freedoms and our society. Direct attacks on them is a direct attack on us as a free nation.
Minnesota State Patrol just fired tear gas at reporters and photographers at point blank range. pic.twitter.com/r7X6J7LKo8
— Molly Hennessy-Fiske (@mollyhf) May 31, 2020
— Michael Anthony Adams (@MichaelAdams317) May 31, 2020
WCCO photojournalist records himself getting shot in the leg with a rubber bullet and arrested by state patrol pic.twitter.com/kPVn6SZU65
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) May 31, 2020
Perhaps there are many more stories like this that I have not seen. Please share the ones that you find most startling.
Yes, what’s happened in Minneapolis calls for a huge law enforcement presence. Yes, they can enforce the curfew. But if individuals in authority can not effectively communicate, use discretion and have compassion while enforcing these rules, what is happening now will only get worse, not better.
Here is an example I found from Michigan of how law enforcement can be an ally. The sheriff’s department joined the protests and called it a parade. This is what we need for America to truly be the best country on Earth. Without this, I fear we will crumble.
“The only reason we’re here is to make sure you have a voice.”
That’s Chris Swanson, Sheriff of Genesee County, MI.
He said he wanted a parade not a protest, “you tell us what you need to do,” he yelled.
The crowd chanted: “walk with us.”
📷: Johnie Franklin III/Facebook pic.twitter.com/kuMVQycCAj
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) May 31, 2020