By Michele Foster, Southwest Minneapolis resident
I watched the video of the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis. It is difficult to process as an older, white, female, who is a long-term resident of Southwest Minneapolis. It was shocking, but probably not surprising. I can only imagine what it is like for the black members of our Minneapolis community for whom it is only one in a series with an immediacy and constancy which I will never have to experience. It's not enough for me to feel bad for something that happened in another city or wait until the next tragic police event in Minneapolis and then speak out.
What I learned from the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols
I learned that Memphis had specialized police units operating from unmarked cars in plain clothes (they were in uniform and in police cars that night).
Memphis has policies about the duty of officers to intervene and render aid. It didn't prevent the tragic, criminal behavior that night.
Memphis has training about de-escalation. It didn't prevent the tragic, criminal behavior that night.
Memphis has a black police chief and a relatively high percentage of diverse police officers. It didn't prevent the tragic, criminal behavior that night.
The initial press release that was issued by the police department was very similar to the first press release issued after the murder of George Floyd (i.e. misleading, inaccurate, untruthful).
Policies and training and diverse police officers did not prevent the tragic, criminal behavior that night.
I want to know how current Minneapolis leadership is going to prevent this from occurring here.
Does Minneapolis have specialized units similar to Scorpion? During the unrest here, there was an unmarked van with police shooting randomly at protestors. The City paid a settlement to the victim after he was prosecuted and found innocent. If so, how are they being supervised and/or changed after Memphis?
What specific communication has there been regarding the tragedy in Memphis with our police force?
What is being done to change the culture of policing in Minneapolis?
What is being done to prevent a Tyre Nichols death here?
Other than a brief Twitter statement from the mayor and a statement from our new police chief, to the best of my knowledge, there has been no press conference or briefing to our City regarding what Minneapolis is doing to prevent such an occurrence. The Star Tribune editorial on January 31 abhorred the events in Memphis but did not call for any specifics from our City leadership. It is not enough to abhor this tragic, criminal behavior.
Mayor Jacob Frey, the new Commissioner of Community Safety Cedric Alexander, and the new Police Chief Brian O’Hara, for whom I only want success, promised leadership, and transparency. Where are they?
I'm waiting. I want them to talk to the entire city and deal with hard questions about prevention specifically and out in the open. This is urgent.