NoMi Love: Flowers for the Fourth Precinct

Minneapolis 4th Precinct

A few weeks ago while picking up flowers for some new neighbors, my son was insistent on my getting flowers and cookies for the police officers. He really wanted to give the police officers flowers and cookies because in his words, “they help us.”

We live blocks away from the Minneapolis 4th Precinct.

The precinct where two police officers killed Jamar Clark within 60 seconds.

The precinct where one of their officers very recently pulled a gun on my co-worker walking back to his vehicle when leaving work – in their search for a suspect in the area. I can’t imagine how that scenario would have gone down had my co-worker been Black.

It’s safe to say that this precinct doesn’t have the greatest history with how they have interacted with the Northside community.

My goal in writing NoMi Love for is to report the positive side that many don’t see or hear about North Minneapolis. That is still my goal.

But right now, I have to tell you, my heart has been ripped open this past week due in large part to the recent acquittal of (yet another) police officer – Officer Yanez for the murder of Philando Castile.

After watching the video of Philando’s significant other Diamond Reynold’s four year old daughter comforting her, just after watching Philando being shot and just barely being missed by bullets herself, I’m left wondering, how soon do I have to have “the talk” with my son? The talk that every Black parent has with their children as they grow up on how to act around police to keep from being hurt and/or killed.

How do I tell my son that not all officers are safe?

How do I tell my son, that no matter how respectful and how compliant you are, you can still get hurt or killed just based purely on their fear and perception in that moment?

How do I tell my son, that even when there is clear wrong doing on the part of the police officer, that because they wear that badge, there will be no rightful justice for you?

How do I tell my son that while the police code is to “Protect and Serve”, there are many officers carrying that badge that are not there to protect and serve us?

Like many in my community, I am grieving right now. I am angry. I am deeply hurt. I am tired of it. It’s too. damn. much.

I’m grieving, because how soon do I need to tell my son that he may not be safe from those who have sworn to serve and protect? Diamond’s daughter was just four years old when she learned that brutal lesson from the back seat of Philando’s car. My son is just four months away…

I’m walking into the 4th Precinct hand in hand with my son as he’s proudly carrying the cookies and flowers. We are standing near a woman as she is reporting her missing adult daughter. The officer behind the glass appears to display little concern. I am sweating and nervous. As a police officer comes out from a door near the desk, my son pops out in his path yelling excitedly “I HAVE COOKIES!!” The officer laughs and takes my son to their back break room. He meets a few more officers, gives them high-fives, and gets a sticker.

He’s just 4 months away.


16 thoughts on “NoMi Love: Flowers for the Fourth Precinct

  1. Hannah PritchardHannah Pritchard

    Oh, Angie. I’ve been thinking about your little man these last few days and how innocent he still is. He is the most joyful child, and I want him to stay that way always. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Angelina McDowell

      Thanks Hannah. Seriously, everything is unicorns and raining skittles for that kid sometimes and I really want to keep it that way for as long as I can.

  2. Hannah PritchardHannah Pritchard

    Also, I appreciate that the photo for your post is a shot from after the shutdown, when temporary fencing was put up to “protect” the precinct from the people it serves. The optics on that decision not withstanding, the fencing blocked the sidewalk! With no labeled detour! That bugged me so much.

    It clearly violated the City’s pedestrian detour policies, and I was very proud of the Minneapolis Pedestrian Advisory Committee for issuing a resolution on the topic.

    1. Angelina McDowell

      I’m glad they got rid of it as fast as it went up. I called the Mayors office letting them know they are making us the enemy in our own neighborhood. It felt like walking through a check point on a military base in Iraq. Those exact type of barriers were used.

  3. Karen

    What a horror this is for the parents in our towns.

    When I watched the video of Dimond hand-cuffed in the police car while her boyfriend was bleeding out and her daughter was trying to console her – and her daughters says something about they were going to get ice cream and asks why the town can’t be safer – it just gutted me.

    I’m tearing up with sadness and anger writing this.

    Not only was Castile killed while running errands with his family and respectfully pulling over and following cops orders, this is beyond just that one cop’s horrible lethal actions – because the other police also rendered no aid to Castile, locked his grieving girlfriend and daughter in the back of the squad car, and later kept Dimond in custody, refusing to let her go to hospital as Castile died.

    We want our kids to be able trust and respect those that serve, we want them to obey rules and the people who enforce them, but what do we do, when we know many some of those police are also a danger to them and that by their actions, they have shown us they have less regard for some childre’s lives?

    1. Alex

      >because the other police also rendered no aid to Castile

      Did you even watch the unedited video? Officers performed medical treatment on Castile as soon as the scene was secured until the medics arrived.

      >following cops orders

      Clearly not, since that was one of the main reasons the jury declared Yanez not guilty. Maybe illegally carrying a gun after consuming pot (permit is for non-drug users only by law) isn’t the best idea.

      >locked his grieving girlfriend and daughter in the back of the squad car

      And they should’ve done what exactly? Just let them go on their merry way immediately after ordering them out of the car? They were let go within a few hours, which seems extremely reasonable.

      Heavy on the emotion here, light on the facts. Should Yanez be a police officer? No, but you’d be hard pressed to find a jury that could honestly say he’s guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

        1. Monte Castleman

          The thing is though that writers shouldn’t include controversial side-points if they don’t want discussions to go off on tangents about them. I got plenty of comments on one of my article about a specific word choice rather than the merits or lack thereof on the main point (I learned from the mistake and will not do it again) Another writer got a lot of heat for accusing all of us of breaking the law by not paying transit fares.

      1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

        You mean other officers performed CPR on a man who had been shot twice in the heart once they could get the hysterical officer who shot him to take his gun off an unarmed woman and child.

        The jury decided that the prosecution could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Yanez acted unreasonably. That’s all.

        Having seen the video and heard the audio of Castile verbally confirming his compliance with Yanez’s orders, and having no evidence contrary to that other than Yanez’s in-court testimony that was directly contradicted by his contemporaneous statements, I don’t understand how they reached that conclusion. But people really, really want to give cops the benefit of the doubt.

        What should the police have done with the other victims? I don’t know, treated them like victims instead of suspects, as they weren’t suspected of anything.

        1. Monte Castleman

          A juror was interviewed in one of the local newspapers, and stated

          1) The didn’t get to hear the contradictory statements because the prosecution messed up big time by not introducing them in their case in chief, then the judge ruled ruled they should have done that so they couldn’t present them at rebuttal.

          2) It’s difficult to prove a negative- none of the video evidence shows exactly what was going on in the car- there was no video evidence Castile was not going for the gun, and no video evidence a reasonable person would not think he was even if he actually wasn’t. If there’s a tie, or for that matter any reasonable doubt that things happened the way the prosecution alleges, the win goes to the defendant.

          1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

            On the first point, I’ve seen people saying that the prosecution “screwed up” but I’m not sure that’s right. Had they offered the statements in their case, I’m not sure how they’d have overcome a defense hearsay objection. They’d have been offering the statements as proof of the matter asserted. But maybe it would have been an excited utterance.

            Meanwhile, I also don’t really understand why the judge kept out them when the prosecution wanted to use them as impeachment, when they were no longer hearsay because they were offered to show inconsistent statements, not to prove that the out of court statements were accurate.

            But I’m thinking about the federal rules of evidence, and primarily on the basis of taking evidence in law school a while ago, so maybe the state rules are different or my memory is bad.

            Perhaps the judge didn’t think the inconsistencies were direct enough.

    2. Angelina McDowell

      I feel you Karen. It just feels like a no win for us. I respect the job police have to do, but there are many who are police that have no respect for our lives.

  4. Rosa

    Angelina, thank you for writing and posting this. I’ve been thinking about it ever since I first read it.

    Maybe we’ll run into you and your son at Slow Roll tomorrow? It seems like a great NoMiLove topic if you have time.

    1. Angelina McDowell

      I definitely want to get in on a Slow Roll real soon! I still have to get my bike fixed and a seat setup for my son. I’ll see how fast the turn around time would be at that bike shop on Glenwood.

      Thanks Rosa!

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