Mpls. cops judged non-whites long before #pointergate

Writing in the Southwest Journal, journalist Jim Walsh today revisits his story of a month ago in which his son was stopped by Minneapolis police while simply walking around his block.

He finds it significant, especially in light of some of the analysis of #pointergate — I’m no longer bothering with the boilerplate copy to explain what #pointergate is — that he received plenty of email and messages that it’s happening all over Minneapolis.

“I’ve lived in this city most of my 55 years, and the last two months is the most scrutiny I’ve ever seen the police come under, and for good reason,” Walsh says.

Acknowledging that cops have a dangerous, thankless, and stressful job, the reaction to my column and Henry’s courage for telling his story was heartening. I learned that it wasn’t just happening to poor people on the Northside, or to rich people in Edina, or to my son and his friends, or to me and my friends, it was happening to everyone, for no good reason.

Comments poured into my Facebook page, reporting that, “it’s not an isolated incident,” “it’s not safe out there with all these police running around,” “power corrupts,” “you should always be happy to see the cops but sadly that’s not the case,” and “it’s really time to start standing up to these thugs; we have our First and Fourth Amendment rights,” and more.

I heard about groups of kids detained and ticketed for loitering a half-block from their home in broad daylight. I heard from a marathon-running grandmother who was out for a morning run and stopped by the cops, handcuffed, and put up against the hood of a cop car, even when she’d explained who she was and that she was standing in front of her house on 48th and Aldrich.

I heard from bicyclists who claim bicycle-annoyed cop cars routinely cut them off in traffic, hoping to get a rise. I heard about a mom who, while dropping her kid off at school, was accosted by a cop for “being in the wrong lane” and for “copping an attitude” after he was told politely that she, in fact, was in the right lane.

This is the part of #pointergate that has been lost in the brouhaha over one incident and one indication of police attitudes toward residents of the city.

If there is someday to be a discussion between Minneapolis police and the city’s politicians, this is the one to have.