NoMi Love: Flowers for the Fourth 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.”

Minneapolis 4th Precinct

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 4-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 wrongdoing 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 4 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.