Our View: Withhold judgment, demand solutions
This is happening far too frequently. Baton Rouge. St. Paul. And that's just this week. So far this week.Enough.No matter whose side you're on -- with the police because officers aren't being respected and their orders aren't being followed as th...
This is happening far too frequently. Baton Rouge. St. Paul. And that’s just this week. So far this week.
No matter whose side you’re on - with the police because officers aren’t being respected and their orders aren’t being followed as they should be, or with the black men being shot and killed and their families because they are targets in a culture of institutional and systemic racism - you can see the need to come together to find solutions and to end the needless bloodshed.
Will Philando Castile’s death late Wednesday in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights, about a half hour after he was stopped by a St. Anthony, Minn., police officer and apparently shot, finally spark the dialogue that’s needed and lead to the change that simply has to happen?
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton certainly did the right thing by immediately calling for a federal investigation into Castile’s death. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension had already launched an independent state-level investigation.
Why was Castile pulled over in the first place? His girlfriend disputed the vehicle he was driving had a broken taillight. Was he reaching for his wallet when he was shot? Was he attempting to produce a driver’s license, as he had been ordered to do by the officer, as his girlfriend also said? He reportedly had a permit to carry a firearm. Was there a gun?
Those things will be determined. Have to be determined. So, perhaps, another incident like this never happens. So we can learn from any mistakes made, from the senseless violence.
Until such questions are answered, as hard as it is to do, we can resist the temptation to judge, to draw conclusions based in bias and on information that still isn’t complete. We can consider the incident on its own.
“It’s no fun, of course, to take the side of letting the facts direct our opinions, even if that makes the most sense. You know what’s fun? It’s fun to let our imaginations take over, to theorize and suppose, to fit every square peg of a news story into our round-hole point of view. To know what happened - and why, of course - without having to really know,” Mike Hashimoto wrote in the Dallas Morning News yesterday in urging restraint and patience after another police shooting, the one in Baton Rouge, La., two days earlier. How quickly these incidents pile up.
“We will know more soon enough,” Hashimoto wrote, “and that’s surely superior to guessing now.”
In Minnesota, until we know more, while we’re still in that time of only being able to guess at what happened, we can heed the words of Gov. Dayton, delivered in a statement after protesters peacefully demonstrated outside his residence Wednesday night and early Thursday. We can grieve as a state with “the family, friends, and community of Philando Castile.” We are his community.
And we can join Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, and “grieve for Philando Castile, his family, friends, and community, and especially the child, who was in the car with him,” as she said, also in a statement. “I pray for everyone touched by this tragedy, including our law enforcement officers.”
These incidents are becoming far too common. Each time they divide us further, expanding the chasm between police officers and those suspicious of and skeptical of their authority, between our many communities.
Solutions have to be found.
Everyone can agree on that - even if we can’t always resist the temptation to judge prematurely or to reach conclusions before knowing facts.