Well, at least Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers Ryan Kelly and Justin Schmidt had better sense than to shoot another pretty, blonde Australian. Or their behinds would truly be in a sling. But, they only shot someone Black — Thurman Blevins, Jr. — some 10 times it’s been reported, and likely don’t have much to worry about.
According to witness James Lark, Blevins raised his arms telling the officers, “I don’t have anything.”
Robert Lang didn’t see what happened, but said he heard a whole lot of commotion, including the order for Blevins to “Drop the gun!” The police say he pulled a pistol. Even if bodycam footage the City Council has demanded shows this, that it wasn’t planted, you shoot him damned near a dozen times? Hell, he was probably dead after the first few shots.
Quite honestly, there’s reason to think he had been acting up. To the tune of 911 complaints that a drunk was firing off a handgun on the sidewalk. Katya Kelly said Blevins had been drinking and had a bottle out in broad daylight as he, his girlfriend and her sister, were on their way to Kelly’s home. She also said officers shot him as he was running the other way. Whether he was blameless, horrifically, is less to the point than that he was Black and Black lives actually don’t matter to far too many cops.
Peter Johnson, founder of Archway Defense, a firm providing security training for, among other clients, law enforcement, states, “It’s sad to see a continued media bias against law enforcement nationwide.”
Documenting ongoing, widespread abuse of authority is not bias. It’s called the news. The Star-Tribune reported, “Court records show that Blevins had several criminal convictions over the past decade. He was convicted in 2010 of being a felon in possession of a firearm and of fleeing Minneapolis police in 2008 and 2012. He also pleaded guilty in 2015 to one count of fourth-degree assault for spitting at and kicking a Minneapolis Park Police officer. A minor drug possession charge was dismissed June 8.”
You want to talk bias? What in the hell does this have to do with his being riddled with bullets? Journalistic justification after the fact?
Minneapolis City Council Member Phillipe Cunningham stated the obvious: minority communities face the burden of historical trauma from past injustices. No kidding. Officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze got off scot-free for gunning down Jamar Clark while Officer Mohamed Noor will go on trial for killing Justine Ruszczyk Damond. Two days after Blevins’ death, Cunningham and colleagues stood around urging the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to release the body cam footage fast as possible “because transparency and expediency really matters in terms of building trust with the community.” Sorry to tell the good councilman, but that ship has sailed.
In the end, this mayor is not going to call for the police chief’s head on a platter. Instead of Mayor Betsy Hodges scapegoating Chief Janee Harteau, a Native gay woman, to scant protest, we have Jacob Frey, who caught hell from noted activist and MSR columnist Mel Reeves at a community vigil for Thurman Blevins. Frey isn’t about to fire not only the MPD’s first Black chief of police but one who is popular with communities of color because they trust his integrity. So, no, Arradondo’s job is safe. Which doesn’t take him off the spot. Black folk, much as we admire the man, want to see departmental change we can believe in. Whites, even the good ones, are watching closely to see not too much of that change takes place too soon to suit them.
Meanwhile, Thurman Blevins, Jr. is shot dead by police and life goes on.