Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A missed chance

Brad details an egregiously stupid comment made by the head of the St. Paul Government Schools--more or less, she asked what she was going to tell her black students about the situation.  The police union responded--showing, I'm afraid, some ill fruits of their membership having attended schools like St. Paul Public in their diction--and I'm afraid also missed a golden chance to educate.  Here's how I would have responded:

Ms. Silva

You tweeted an interesting question regarding the grand jury decision not to indict Officer Wilson of the Ferguson Police in the death of Michael Brown; what does one tell black students in this case?  Well, our position is that it would be wise for teachers to simply tell the truth, and here's how we'd phrase it.

"The grand jury decided after 200  hours of deliberation that Officer Wilson was justified in shooting Michael Brown because Mr. Brown had committed aggravated assault with likely intent to kill, including the attempted theft of Officer Wilson's service pistol.  They have released all of the information on which they based this decision, and it's worth noting that 90% of the information came from blacks at the scene, and that almost all of them agreed that Michael Brown had committed aggravated assault with likely intent to kill.  This is, by the way, the same thing that got Trayvon Martin killed.

Kids, I'm going to be very blunt with you; there are times in school where you may have gotten away with having a fight, even a fight where the loser needed to go to the hospital.  However, when you get out in the real world, your victim does not know that you are going to stop "once you've made your point."  When you start punching him--especially if you are much larger and male--your victim will assume that you are intending to kill or maim him.

And that, under the law, allows your victim to respond to your likely lethal force with lethal force, whether he is a police officer or not.  So choose your behaviors wisely, again, especially if you are large, athletic, and male."

See, that's not so difficult, is it?  Moreover, as we look at the crime rates from students in and graduates of the schools you run, it's pretty obviously a lesson that many of these kids need to learn.  So let's give it a try, OK?


David Titus
St. Paul Police Federation


St. Louisan said...

Sometimes I can breeze by things with which I strongly disagree. Other times, well ...

This is one of those other times. Do you know why those rioters had no sense of community? Because they are not from Ferguson. I'm assuming you are also not from the St. Louis area. Well, I am. This is what I can tell you: Protesters -- not rioters but protesters -- formed human chains to protect their community's businesses when the riots broke out. Did you know that? That's not something the media would share in their rush to get the best headlines and the hottest pictures.

Did you also know that residents of Ferguson spent mornings after the riots picking up trash, helping business owners board broken windows, bringing hot drinks to cold workers and finding little and big ways to help out?

And did you know that artists from Ferguson and surrounding areas spent hours painting and beautifying the boards so that the city, scarred though it was, would have some semblance of beauty rising up through the ashes?

I suspect you knew none of that. And yet you were in a rush to blog condemnation of the residents of Ferguson, precious few of whom were among the arrested rioters -- most of whom came not only from outside the St. Louis area but from outside the state! They had no sense of community BECAUSE THEY DID NOT BELONG HERE.

Ferguson has something special. Sure, the news media and country at large has taken the opportunity to paint it as a depressed, racially segregated hate-filled place. But anyone who took the time to really learn about those who live there would find that the reality is much, much different.

I know this is a long comment, and for that, I could apologize. But I won't because the truth needs to be told. Mayhem just isn't our style. But community activism is. And the protests -- which continue, I should add -- of those who live here have been not only peaceful but productive, beginning conversations and sparking hope and healing in black and white alike.

Bike Bubba said...

Sounds like if you've got the time, you might do well to look up the demographics--hometown, etc..--of those arrested in the riots and see what you see. Maybe put up your own blog to share it--and send me a link.

That said, it strikes me that if I traveled to...Bemidji, say, to protest something, I just might do so out of affinity with those there. So even if we see mostly non-natives on the arrest lists, it strikes me that it's very odd for people to travel all that way just to cause problems. Don't they have buildings that need to be destroyed around Chicago, KC, or wherever?