The Star Tribune finally acknowledged its lack of journalistic integrity in sharing a false police narrative claiming that Winston Smith was a murder suspect (in a covert effort to justify his killing by U.S. Marshals), but that is not enough. The Star Tribune’s conduct is part of a reckless pattern of reinforcing White supremacy and demonization of Black victims of police violence and police killings that has gone on for years.
Even after the initial article they published about Winston Smith, they continued to besmirch his character in follow-up stories, while providing little to no substantive information about the conduct of the law enforcement officers, their behavior, the lack of transparency of the U.S. Marshals, their use of extreme violence and the overall lack of justification for the murder of Winston Smith.
Nor did they highlight the conflict of interest between the head U.S. Marshal for Minnesota, Mona Dohman, and the BCA.
The family and friends of Winston Smith, justice advocates and movement journalists such as Georgia Fort and Toussaint Morrison all called out the Star Tribune and corporate media’s faulty, racist reporting. We essentially had to do the media’s job by doing our own research and reporting facts and inconsistencies. Since then, three law enforcement agencies have withdrawn from the U.S. Marshals Service amidst intense scrutiny.
The Star Tribune must not only apologize. It must make amends and transform its overall inequitable and racist reporting practices. As Black people, we should not have to lead this charge to hold the Star Tribune accountable.
Nekima Levy Armstrong, Minneapolis, civil rights attorney and activist.
Nekima Levy Armstrong is a civil rights attorney, former law professor, activist, legal scholar, and national racial justice expert. She is the founder and owner of Levy Armstrong, PLLC Law Firm & Black Pearl, LLC Consulting. In 2017, she was named 100 People to Know by Twin Cities Business. In 2016, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the Governor’s Commission on Martin Luther King Day. In 2015, she was named one of “40 Under 40” by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. In 2014, she was named a “Minnesota Attorney of the Year” by Minnesota Lawyer and recognized as one of “50 Under 50 Most Influential Law Professors of Color in the Country” by Lawyers of Color Magazine.