Before the verdict, these comments are ‘not helpful’

The pandemic, the death of George Floyd, the trial of Derek Chauvin and now the death of Daunte Wright have put the state of Minnesota and its people under a tremendous amount of stress. In stressful times we turn to leaders for guidance, inspiration, honesty and most importantly, leadership. Unfortunately, we have been let down across the board. Institutional leadership at all levels — government, the media, unions and non-profits can be summed up in two words: not helpful. Instead of offering facts and calming people down, they ignore facts and rile people up.

Gov. Tim Walz

Walz’s original statement, before seeing the body cam video or knowing any facts, jumped to conclusions and accused the police of “taking” the life of another Black man. The top leader in our state set the tone for what was to come, telling Minnesotans how to feel about the incident before any facts are known. A strong leader would have called for calm, asking people to wait for the facts. What he did was not helpful.

Walz continued his leadership during a press conference using the first opportunity to speak about the Wright death to do what he does best: accuse Republicans of falling short. Sometimes Congressman Walz can’t shake the partisan dust off his boots from Washington, D.C. Republicans in the Senate need to pass more bills, that’s the problem according to Governor Tim Walz. Never mind that no bill would prevent an officer from making the tragic and deadly mistake of pulling her handgun instead of her taser. Not helpful.

Brooklyn Center Mayor and Council

In times of crisis, you need experienced and steady leadership. Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliot’s first reaction to the death of Daunte Wright was to fire his city manager and police chief. He didn’t fire them because of the tragic law enforcement mistake, or for poor training, or for anything related to Wright’s death. He fired them for their handling of the first night of protests, claiming the city police treated the “protesters” poorly as they rioted and threatened to burn down the police station. Since that first night, the police in Brooklyn Center and throughout Hennepin County have struggled to protect the city’s people and property because of the Mayor and Council’s weak leadership. Not helpful.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Rep. Waters travelled to Minnesota to join protesters outside the Brooklyn Center police department. It was odd to hear her complain about the power structure, saying “The way to get in control is not to allow them to win. You’ve got to register and you’ve got to vote and you’ve got to take the power.” Take the power from who? Her party controls the White House, Congress, the Minnesota Executive Branch, the Minnesota House and the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul and Brooklyn Center.

More troubling, Waters called on protesters to react to a possible not-guilty verdict in the Chauvin case with more violence.

Hours after her calls to “get more confrontational,” a group of Minnesota National Guard members were targeted in a drive by shooting. IN THEIR OWN STATE! Not helpful.

The Chauvin defense team moved for a mistrial based on Waters’ comments and although the judge denied the motion, he made the extraordinary statement that it could be a valid issue on appeal. He called her comments abhorrent. We call them not helpful.   

Local News

Local CBS affiliate WCCO ran a story about Rep. Waters’ visit to Brooklyn Center and of course left out the most controversial things she said. Minnesotans continually have to look for media sources from outside the state to find out what is really happening. Not helpful.  

Union leaders

Trying to be helpful, a local construction union official allowed the National Guard to set up a staging area in the St. Paul Labor Federation building. Other members of the “federation” found out and showed up to harass and chase the guard members from the property. Embarrassingly not helpful.

Star Tribune Columnist Jennifer Brooks

Columnist Jennifer Brooks of the Star Tribune minimized or ignored the reality of the Brooklyn Center protests by calling the protesters/rioters “mourners.”

  • They were throwing rocks at police.
  • They were shooting illegal fireworks at police.
  • They were shining lasers into the eyes of police.
  • They tried to storm the police station to burn it down.
  • They repeatedly yelled “F*&k 12!” and “All Cops Are Bastards!”

Strange way to mourn. Not helpful, Jennifer.

Star Tribune Columnist Myron Medcalf

Myron Medcalf minimized or ignored the fact that Daunte Wright was not following instructions, evading arrest and attempting to flee from police officers when he wrote, “Wright died seconds after returning to his vehicle and being shot by an officer.” Wait, did he say “returned to his vehicle”? Is that what he did? Medcalf joins the chorus of people only concerned with the actions of police while ignoring the context, situation and behavior of the victim. Not helpful.

Sahan Journal

The Sahan Journal ran an interview with a local attorney who completely excused the behavior of rioters and looters saying they lack the tools to deal with trauma.

“When I see folks out looting Walmart or whatever it may be, I’m seeing potentially community members who once again have been exposed to a harm, exposed to an evil. They lack the tools to deal with what it means to be traumatized again.”

They lack the tools? Not helpful. And maybe a little racist.

Associated Press

The Associated Press (and other media outlets) ran a fluff piece about the life of Daunte Wright and minimized or ignored Wright’s criminal record, leaving out the specifics of his arrest for assault.

“A search of court records shows Wright had a minor criminal record, with petty misdemeanor convictions for possession/sale of a small amount of marijuana and disorderly conduct.”

A minor criminal record? Not helpful.

Ben Crump

National Attorney Ben Crump swooped into Minnesota again to sign up the Wright family as his next client and proceeded to hold a press conference directed at the Washington County Attorney. Crump called for murder charges to be brought against Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter for mistaking her firearm for her taser in the death of Daunte Wright. Crump isn’t buying the mistake, even after watching the body cam footage where she yells “Taser, taser!” before pulling the trigger.

According to Crump:

“This was no accident. This was an intentional, deliberate and unlawful use of force.”

Does Crump really believe she intended to kill that 20-year-old kid during a traffic stop? Not helpful.

The culmination of all these “not helpful” comments will add to the hysteria and anxiety we are sure to face once the verdict is announced in the Derek Chauvin case. This is not leadership. And it’s not helpful.