When I awoke Monday morning, the first words I heard from my wife brought horror: "A young Black man was shot in Brooklyn Center, and there was looting last night."
We mourn the loss of Daunte Wright. If his death was caused by an accidental discharge of a police firearm then we have truly witnessed a tragedy.
We are affected as human beings, for we have seen what appears to be a needless death. At such a moment, we all think about the people we know and love. This effect is good, no matter your views of policing and other cultural issues. It reinforces our humanity, and it is in our humanity that we may perhaps find common ground amid these dark, divisive times.
We must also contemplate former Officer Kimberly Potter. While her actions appear reckless, I am not sure anything could be worse than knowing that you unintentionally killed a man. That reality will doubtless haunt her for the rest of her life.
Moreover, we are affected as citizens. Daunte Wright's death has already become a flash point in America's debate over race and police issues. This week's protests-turned-looting demonstrate that. Assailing law enforcement officers with projectiles and engaging in brazen robbery run counter to every concept of peaceful protest.
Those who choose to engage in such behavior merely perpetuate a troubled status quo in police-community relations. Mob violence leads to the use of further force and more draconian tactics. The smoke of tear gas and the shattered window glass of local businesses portray a community, a nation, at war with itself.
Divided, how shall we ever stand?
Solutions can begin only when the rule of law is applied fairly and thoroughly. Equality before the law, regardless of one's background, is the fundamental concept behind our American experiment. So, too, is a respect for the rule of law; this is the glue which binds our presently torn union together.
Our state and local institutions are the best hope for the perpetuation of liberty and the achievement of social progress. There will be clashing interpretations of these notions of progress and solutions. There will be debate. There will be victories and losses for all parties. But we must all agree that the supremacy of the law ought to be our starting point.
Still, as we mourn the death of Daunte Wright and seek lessons from Sunday's tragic events, we must strive for more than an affirmation of the rule of law in the wake of looting and vandalism. Reason, good faith, compassion — let these virtues rule the day and help us to quell the chaos within our cities, and within ourselves.
Samuel Viskocil lives in Minnetonka.