I offer condolences to anyone who has lost a family member under any circumstances. It is difficult to think clearly while in the process of grief, and the first response truly is denial. Understanding this may help to explain some of the statements made by the family in response to the Thurman Blevins case, which simply don’t align with the facts.
It is important for the public to reflect upon the facts. Charging the police officers in this case — and disparaging the entire Police Department — would obviously not be warranted. The inflammatory claims of consequences if demands are not met also demonstrate an unwillingness to view the actual facts.
With respect to the media, the manner in which information and opinions are often presented — especially in headlines and lead-ins, in order to gain attention, readers and viewers — adds additional fuel to debate, often leading to inaccurate perceptions. News reports that continue to present only the claims of “witnesses” that contradict the facts, while not televising witnesses who support eventually proven facts, isn’t sound journalism.
Statements published by news sources emphasizing that “another” minority has been shot by a police officer also unnecessarily and unfairly undermine trust in law enforcement and the justice system, because the facts in many of the recent cases don’t suggest any wrongdoing on the part of law enforcement. There is seldom any mention of the failure to comply on the part of the suspects.
At his recent news conference, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman set out to describe the Blevins situation accurately based upon facts, law enforcement training — and the law. Current law enforcement practices — and the law — are supported by the vast majority of the citizens of the state of Minnesota. We look to law enforcement to uphold existing laws and to keep the public safe.
But before Freeman could complete his presentation, protests and blatant threats interrupted the news conference, displaying a disregard for the facts that were of interest to the general public.
The fact that someone was fleeing law enforcement officers with a loaded gun supports the actions taken by the police officers and is consistent with their training. The suspect obviously heard the officers’ commands since his responses are also captured on the video.
There are undoubtedly issues in our country involving racism, mental illness, gun violence and drug use. It is extremely unfortunate that so many resources, so much media time and misinformation, and so much public attention are given to isolated cases that are being handled according to the facts. All of these resources could be used to address the real issues.
Justice is the stated objective of many recent protests resulting from police interactions where charges have not been filed. To members of the general public who haven’t experienced the injustice that seems so raw in many communities, it appears the real objective is only to create further distrust and make scapegoats out of innocent police officers, when they were actually doing their jobs as trained.
There is no easy solution. More minority officers within law enforcement would be a good first step, and improvements have been made in this area. Another option would be to create an independent, impartial advocacy group that has support from the communities that believe justice is not available to them. It might help restore trust in the system, similar to the organizations that advocate for people who have been unfairly imprisoned or are even awaiting execution.
As a taxpayer, I would be willing to support such an effort to help those who believe they have not been treated fairly and are struggling for solutions to change the current process.
But as a citizen, I am not willing to support disregard for the laws and inflammatory discourse that escalates violence and continued disrespect for law enforcement officers conducting their jobs as trained.
Mike Iversen lives in Victoria.