By Stephani Tikalsky / Bloomington, Minnesota
The editor of The Insider has been after me for almost a month to “write something." She even peppered me with praise regarding my writing abilities. Bless her. But I was just getting ready to tell her, sorry. I’m just not feeling it.
In fact, I just had this conversation with my husband, Jim, that I don’t know what it is but I have this sense of sadness, a weight, immobilization, the need to just keep sighing deeply. He pointed out, rightly, that I’m not immobilized. I am keeping up with my exercise regimen, proudly I might add. I continue to do my volunteer shifts for Planned Parenthood. So, no, not immobilized but something is weighing me down. Perhaps it’s still my father’s death in January?
And then WHAM! Today’s news: another senseless, unnecessary murder of an even younger (than George Floyd) Black man by a white cop; this time during a traffic stop in a northern suburb of Minneapolis. Now I can add dismay, anger, WTF-ness to my previous sense of sadness. Seriously, what the hell is going on?
As my son-in-law, Carter, so aptly put it, “All the positives coming from the Chauvin trial, that one superior police officer after another was coming forward, on the stand, calling what happened murder, and the medical experts stating that George Floyd would not have died that day had it not been for the actions of the police officers at the scene, the seemingly clear direction the case was going…. and now we’re here. Again.”
We’re. Here. Again. Indeed. There’s a metro-wide curfew from 7 p.m. Monday until 6 a.m.Tuesday now for the second time in less than a year. That had never happened prior to George Floyd's murder. It was an attempt to avoid the mass protests and looting that occurred then. Sadly, while much more limited in scope, neither was avoided this time either. The protests I understand; the looting of one’s neighborhood businesses, not so much. It just doesn’t seem the “right” way to express anger and grief. That said, I am the aforementioned white woman; suburban and middle-aged to boot. What do I know of the frustration?
I’ll be honest. I am all over the place on this new case. Why, why, why did Daunte Wright resist? Wait--that’s blaming the victim! But wait, I’ve heard and read time and again that the “facts of life” presented to black male youths are what to do in the event of being stopped by the police. In the video, Daunte actually seemed to be cooperating until you see Kim Potter, the female officer, get involved. But the onus cannot be on Daunte. But Potter, a 26-year police veteran, thought she was using her taser…. Life as she knew it just ended. I can hear her shock when she realizes she shot Daunte. I can’t imagine what she must be feeling and yet, let’s be real: actual life ended for Daunte. Period. Done. Twenty-years old, a rash decision to resist arrest, perhaps, but done. Because of expired tabs, a hanging air freshener, an outstanding misdemeanor warrant and an accidental shooting? No. Just, no.
And please, let’s acknowledge another reality: had Daunte been white, he would be alive. No question. None on my part. White boys and men simply do not die during traffic stops. White boys and men, in army uniforms, are not pepper sprayed and abused because the police officer didn't see the temporary license in the back window of their new SUV. Yep, I do indeed know that I’m now “piling on,” something we’re often advised against doing. But sadly it would be so easy to continue to pile on because we have so many examples of inexcusable behavior.
I have only one Black friend. How sad is that? One Black friend. I always think of him, and his now twentysomething son, and reach out to him when things like this happen. He’s a big teddy bear of a man who lives by the Golden Rule. He is kind and respectful and gives the best hugs. I say “cops;” he says “police.” I apologize and text “I don’t know what to say; please be safe.” He texts back “nothing for you to apologize for; tell the family I love them.” Wouldn’t we all be better off living by the Golden Rule?
As of this writing the judge in the case of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer being tried for the murder of George Floyd, has decided against the Chauvin defense team’s request to sequester jurors. While I believe the defense does not have a winning case, I worry and can’t imagine they won’t use the death of another Black man at the hands of a white cop to call for a mistrial.
Much will unfold in the days ahead, including for me more feelings of sadness, now defined and undefined, and more heavy, deep sighs. Deep down, I know that the good outweighs the bad, but I may just wallow a bit longer
Kimberly Potter, the Minneapolis police officer, who shot and killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop this past Sunday, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. Both the Brooklyn Center police chief, Tim Gannon, and Potter resigned from their positions on Tuesday.