What made the News Tribune decide that Ausineese Aubin Dufault's criminal history was relevant to readers two sentences into the front-page story about his death ("Teen dead after Lincoln Park shooting")? What made editors and the reporter decide that this information, acknowledged as officially unrelated when the story went to print, should take up fully half the article about his death?
Why did editors and layout people decide they had to use his mugshot instead of reaching out to family for an actual picture? Or why didn't they just not use a picture at all if the one published was the only option?
How many times have we seen indigenous, black, and other people of color get smeared as criminals by the media in the days following their deaths - or have we been assured that kids like Mike Brown are "no angel" after falling victim to state or interpersonal violence?
Now that we know this Native kid with face tattoos has a criminal history, are we supposed to rest easy that he deserved what he got, and he's off the streets?
If I didn't already know about his death, I would have assumed, like the first two people I talked to about it, that Dufault was the perpetrator and not the victim. The first thing we saw in the newspaper's coverage was "Teen dead" and "shooting" in a headline and a mugshot. Whether intentional or not, this added to the ongoing harm experienced by colonized people at the hands of institutions with the power to control narratives told about them.
As we celebrate renaming Lake Place Park to Gichi-ode' Akiing, it feels like we're taking one step forward and two steps back again.
The newspaper needs to take responsibility and work to repair what it has done.