No one expected the unfair, unjust, immoral police system we live under to discipline (even in liberal and supposedly progressive Minneapolis, the future of home of the Super Bowl in 2018) in any way the cops who unnecessarily killed Jamar Clark nearly a year ago. So why did the Minneapolis power structure, led by two women — Mayor Betsy Hodges and Police Chief Janae Harteau — make a big deal about announcing their non-punishment of these cops?
The news rang out all over the country, on every major news outlet from CNN to the Chicago Tribune to the Washington Post. The message was delivered, Minneapolis holds the line, business as usual.
The press conference was called to assure the Minneapolis police that they have carte blanche and nothing will be done if they harm or kill a citizen, especially a Black one. As Charles Samuelson of the Minnesota ACLU put it, “This sends a chilling message to all Minneapolis police officers that the next time they confront a similar situation they should take another life.”
Contrast this with Harteau’s outrage with the arbitrator’s judgment reversing her decision to fire a cop who had disrespected (calling a woman the C word and grabbing her by the throat) two women involved in a domestic dispute. The press conference was called to reassure the power structure that the police, when caught in these situations, will not hesitate to follow procedure and protocol and deal with (even fatally) those that threaten their authority.
Moreover, the conference also represented a taunt, a tossing up of their middle finger to the Black community in particular, and the justice-loving community in general. At bottom, it suggests they have no sense of decency!
Truth is, few people gave much thought about whether the police were even considering disciplining the officers. No one was waiting with baited breath to see if the police were going to hold the cold-blooded killers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze accountable.
The nice lady who is mayor said, “I know that some will be angry at this decision and find it difficult to accept, and I get that.” She would be wrong. To be angry, folks would have to expect a different outcome; most Minneapolitans and others around the country expected nothing less than business as usual. If folks were mad they would be upset with the mayor and her crew for their callousness. What is hard to accept is the rubbing of the decision in the faces of the family and the community.
Harteau was quoted in the Star Tribune saying, “she was going to be talking to community leaders (read collaborators) about her decision and the ways “we can all move forward together in the coming weeks, months and years.” Who is she talking to, the stupid and the foolish?
Clearly Harteau thinks people are stupid, because she made the unbelievable statement that, “these officers did not dictate the outcome of this incident.” What is she talking about? Clark didn’t shoot himself. These officers absolutely determined the outcome of the incident by putting a bullet in Clark’s head. Despite their creative lies about why they killed him, they weren’t forced to kill him.
How can anyone move forward when this system continues to victimize folks and absolutely no one is ever held accountable? It’s absolutely impossible for a human institution to be justified in every situation in which it is called into question. The cop’s actions in Minneapolis are always justified! It defies all odds and logic. Anyone who attends Harteau’s meeting is naïve and at bottom dishonest!
Besides, what is there to talk about? The decision has been made. And since, according to them, shooting human beings down like dogs in the street is justified, we can expect more of the same. These folks didn’t even have the decency to apologize for the loss of life.
Mayor Hodges even had the nerve to use the word healing. How could that take place? According to her and the power structure, there wasn’t even a wound, just a justified action?
This incident proves yet again that sex and party affiliation have no bearing on a system that coddles and encourages injustice, in this case police abuse. You would think that women and good liberal Democrats would know better than to add insult to injury!
Justice then peace.
Mel Reeves welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mel Reeves was the community editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder until he passed away on January 6, 2022. He had a long and storied history working at the MSR.
Find more about Reeve’s life and legacy here: spokesman-recorder.com/category/remembering-mel-reeves.