The sound of a divided community

I don’t know what happened the night that Jamar Clark was shot and killed by police. I’ve read through the evidence as best I can. I’ve watched the video that the county attorney released yesterday. I’ve listened to those far more certain than me, and I still don’t know what happened that November night.

Here’s what I do know: Something has to change.

MPR host Tom Weber’s community talkfest during the day yesterday was astounding to listen to. People on both sides were certain theirs was the correct interpretation. Virtually every caller was — for obviously different reasons — pained, angry, and divided.

But there was something more to the discussion: Too many callers seemed without hope that we can be better than we presently are. Too many people think the system is gamed.

The Pioneer Press’ Ruben Rosario writes today that this is a no-win situation.

“What’s clear in all this is that relations are so strained between communities of color and police — not only here in the Twin Cities but nationally — over such controversial shootings, that there is no longer trust in the police, in a grand jury or in a prosecutorial probe,” he writes.

That has to matter.

“This case and the other recent police shooting cases around the country reinforce my belief that revised police training and practices must emphasize the de-escalation of disruptive situations by non-lethal means whenever possible,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said.

Even that obvious point is being blockaded at the Capitol, where efforts to require more training for police don’t even get a discussion, for fear, one supposes, that they might succeed.

In its editorial today, the Star Tribune says Freeman made the right call, but finds little reason for satisfaction. Still, it couldn’t bring itself to acknowledge the depth to which we are a community of us vs. them.

The erosion of trust in law enforcement is real in some parts of our community and is rooted in incidents that predate the events of the night in November 2015 when Clark was killed. But Mayor Betsy Hodges and Police Chief Janeé Harteau have shown over time that they are committed to improving police-community relations, building a more diverse police force, prioritizing anti-bias and de-escalation training, and expanding the use of body cameras.

We need a road map forward. We need an acknowledgement that the pain and division so articulately stated on Weber’s call-in yesterday is the sound of a nation that cannot long endure.

Related: No charges for officers in Jamar Clark case. Now what? (MPR News)