Friday, July 8, 2016

Life is All About Timing

'Ambush style' attack

Gunshots rang out around 8:45 p.m. CT Thursday while hundreds of people were gathered to protest fatal police shootings this week in Baton Rouge, La., and St. Paul, Minn.*

*CBC World News

Meanwhile in Minnesota at precisely the same time, 8:45 PM and totally unaware of what was about to transpire in Dallas I sent the following email:

On ThuJul 7, 2016 at 8:45 PM,
Opinion Editors
St Paul Pioneer Press

Although it felt good personally to get that off my chest, upon further reflection I can see my letter was not constructive, advances nothing of substance to help resolve the situation and stoops to scapegoating of public officials in a manner not worthy of the people who have lost their lives.  I therefore ask that my letter not be published.  Hopefully I can rework my thoughts into a constructive and coherent narrative that will eventually be worthy of publication.

Plain Sense

"For a heart stained in anger grows weak and grows bitter.
You become your own prisoner as you watch yourself sit there
Wrapped up in a trap of your very own
Chain of sorrow."

John Prine

OK. Thank you.
Pat E.

10 River Park Plaza, Suite 700, St. Paul, MN 55107 

Earlier in the evening I had sent the following letter to the Opinion Page Editor at the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  One of the reasons I chose the St. Paul paper over my hometown paper the Minneapolis Star Tribune was because of the Pioneer Press' callous and tone deaf choice of a lead article for their online edition the day after Philando Castile was killed by a St. Anthony police officer during a traffic stop for a broken tail light in Falcon Heights. Reference to the K-9 article did not make the final edit of my letter.

After St. Paul K-9 fatally stabbed in '13, donations provide vests to SPPD's dogs Press - 2 days ago

July 7, 2016 6:37 PM

Plain Sense

It should not have to come down to this.  We like to think as Minnesotans we are progressive, enlightened people.  But it keeps happening and the Mike Freemans of this world keep condoning and encouraging this behavior. 

“The police are never wrong”.  “The police are everyday heroes”.  “The police have the toughest job in America today”.  When a county attorney will not indict one member of the Metro Gang Strike Force something is wrong.  When the same county attorney adopts a policy removing from citizen grand jury review the ability of citizens to weigh in on police shootings of citizens, something is drastically wrong.  When an execution of a hostage by police captured on dash cam video following a long chase fails to get any charges or indictment one wonders “ is this still America?”

Black, white, Native American, Hispanic and Asian we all have targets on our back.  We all have been victims.  The victims also include the good police officers out there and there are a lot of them.  But by refusing to stand up or by looking the other way when it comes to unlawful behavior by their “Brothers in Blue” they too must bear some responsibility.   Police brutality and the excessive use of force by police cuts across all racial and economic lines but if we do not acknowledge that our fellow Black and lower income citizens are over represented we are in a state of “Minnesota Nice” denial.

As long as I can remember there has been a culture of Thumpers and then closing ranks that has shown time and time again that the police are utterly incapable of policing themselves.  Remember the reaction of the Minneapolis police rank and file to Chief Tony Bouza’s attempts at reform?  The same crap goes on today.  Pointergate.  Need I say more?

We must as a society immediately start a review of the policies of Minnesota Law Enforcement agencies regarding the use of lethal force and begin the process of promulgating new policies that value the lives of citizens as well as those of officers.  I call on Governor Dayton to create a committee with diverse representation .  

As a criminal defense attorney for the last 30 years I am ashamed of my profession’s lack of outrage, lack of leadership and inaction in the face of the intolerable and that critique includes me as well.  Social media, opinion letters and high styled posturing is not enough.  Ask yourself “What will you tell your grandchild you did to stop police brutality and murder?”  Obviously the current policies and regime are inadequate to protect human life and the rights of all Minnesotans.

In light of what went down in Dallas immediately following my email asking that my Opinion letter not be published, one has to wonder if I somehow had tapped into that consciousness of the One that I believe all living things are capable of.  All I know is that at about 8:30 PM and for about 15 minutes thereafter I had this incredible and overwhelming sense of doubt about the letter I was so sure of just moments before. I suddenly had empathy where moments before I only had anger.  I went back and forth for several agonizing minutes before I got up from watching television, almost as if on command, and at exactly 8:45 PM sent off my email.

While Dallas does not change the dire need for rewriting police policy on the use of lethal force and the need for changing how police are trained and most importantly what their role in society is:  Public Servants or Paramilitary Occupying Force, it does change the timing.  Out of respect for our dead citizens be they civilian or law enforcement and their families, let us heed the words of  Congressman John Lewis "let's not lose sight of the values that unite us,our common humanity." 

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