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Instead of scorn at the ballot box, Minneapolis cops deserve benefit of the doubt

The next time anti-police advocates jump on their soapboxes, we must ask them some tough questions about their “woke” proposals and demand realistic answers, particularly people of color.

A Minneapolis Police Department vehicle parked near the boarded-up Hennepin County Public Safety Facility.
A Minneapolis Police Department vehicle parked near the boarded-up Hennepin County Public Safety Facility.
REUTERS/Octavio Jones

Violent crime in Minneapolis has been on the rise for months without any real-world solutions in sight, suggesting our city will become nationally known as “Murderapolis” all over again. Yet Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, by their support of the public safety amendment, continue to demand that we abolish or defund the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). As a result, there is now a prevailing myth among elected officials at City Hall that Black people in Minneapolis do not support our Police Department, even though they are disproportionately the victims of violent crime.

This outrageous lie being perpetuated by Ellison, Omar and anti-police groups like Yes 4 Minneapolis is the furthest thing from the truth and must be repudiated by voters on Election Day. Many Minneapolis residents no longer feel safe and secure in their homes or as they travel about our city. Polls continue to show the irresponsible rhetoric of our elected leaders does not represent the sentiments of most law-abiding people in Minneapolis who are sick and tired of living in a war zone.

The next time anti-police advocates jump on their soapboxes, we must ask them some tough questions about their “woke” proposals and demand realistic answers, particularly people of color.

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, one of the worst days of the year for domestic violence in America. LaToya is brutally assaulted by her husband after he loses his shirt betting on the Minnesota Vikings. Who should she call for help?

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It’s an unusually warm spring night. Keisha decides to sleep with a window open to get some much-needed fresh air. She awakens to a strange man standing over her bed. Who should she call for help?

It’s a hot, humid summer afternoon. Jamal is rushing to pick up his twins from child care. He is assaulted and carjacked after buckling his daughters into their matching car seats. Who should he call for help?

It’s an idyllic fall weekend. The Minneapolis Urban League’s annual Family Day Parade is in full swing in north Minneapolis. Gunshots ring out. Who should parade participants call for help?

Let’s be real, most people instinctively dial 9-1-1 when they are in danger or crisis mode, not a social worker or psychologist. Just like Rep. Omar did when she was threatened with bodily harm by Internet trolls.

As a result, Minneapolis police officers must be given the latest training, technology and other tools of the trade needed to effectively keep us safe from harm. However, Minneapolis cops must also be held accountable for their actions on our streets, which means the use of unnecessary force and the blue wall of silence must become a thing of the past.

Lee Hayes
Lee Hayes
Contrary to what Ellison, Omar and Yes 4 Minneapolis would have us believe, police officers are real-life heroes who deserve our gratitude and respect for their daily sacrifices. After all, who among us would volunteer to apprehend an armed suspect in a dark alley or run into a shopping mall with an active shooter, with full knowledge that we could be killed, never to go home to our loved ones again? Imagine being the child or spouse of a Minneapolis cop and having to live with this daily fear. That is a lot for us to ask anyone to subject their family to for $70,000 annually.

Yes, there are bad Minneapolis police officers, including racist, misogynist and homophobic cops who have no business wearing a badge. The conviction last spring of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin for the heinous murder of George Floyd is proof of this. However, Floyd’s deadly encounter with the MPD is not representative of most Black people’s interaction with the police in Minneapolis.

As a 51-year-old Black man, I have been the victim of racial profiling by the MPD — but a white cop was also the first person on the scene to help me during a life-threatening medical emergency. I have also been stopped driving while Black in Minneapolis — but a white cop was also kind enough to stop and help me fix a flat tire as night began to fall over our city.

I have seen white Minneapolis police officers harass young Black men for seemingly no reason, but I have also witnessed white cops step up to the plate and serve as coaches and volunteers at minority youth sports leagues across our city.

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In my heart, I believe most Minneapolis police officers — regardless of their race or ethnicity — are good, honorable people committed to keeping us safe. Therefore, we must give them the benefit of the doubt as they routinely put their lives at risk on our behalf. Minneapolis cops already have a hard enough job to do without our daily derision and scorn.

The next time Ellison, Omar and Yes 4 Minneapolis advocate replacing the MPD with a weakened Department of Public Safety, I strongly encourage Minneapolis residents to think long and hard about who they will call the next time they are faced with a potentially life-changing emergency.

I can assure you it will not be children at the new city-funded after school program, the director of the Office of Violence Prevention or even one of the city’s recently hired community safety specialists. It will be a Minneapolis police officer who stands valiantly ready to serve and protect at a moment’s notice.

Lee Hayes is a Twin Cities-based public relations and public affairs consultant. He lives in St. Paul but works and spends most of his free time in Minneapolis. 

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