Thurman Blevins, Justine Damond and the automatic outgroup derogation of men

Last summer in North Minneapolis, Thurman Blevins buried a sister he loved. Within days, his family was mourning him as well. He was dead. Shot in an alley after failing to outrun the police.

In a 911 call, Blevins was described as shooting a gun into the ground, with a specifically branded bottle of gin. Men often express their grief through public displays of aggression, such as shouting, or shooting, and/or drinking heavily.

Within 2.5 minutes of the police arrival, Thurman Blevins was dead, at the hands of police, in essence, for expressing his feelings.

In South Minneapolis, in the summer of 2017, Justine Damond called the police to report that she believed a woman was being raped in her South Minneapolis alley. Since police hadn’t arrived fast enough, she charged the squad car, and apparently “smacked” the trunk to alert police to her presence. Officer Mohamed Noor pulled his gun, and within seconds, fired across his partner’s lap, ending Justine’s life.

Little boys in North Minneapolis are taught to run away from the police for safety. Little girls in Australia are taught to run toward them.

I was born and raised here. I know many black men from North Minneapolis, and a fair share of white women from over South.

Growing up in Minneapolis, I likely see the movies of the Blevins and Damond shootings differently than you. So do many of the people I know.

Minneapolis police have a shell, which was shot from a gun, with Blevins’ DNA on it. There’s video evidence of the entire engagement. I know people who are certain there was no gun to see. I also know people who clearly see a gun, and some who are far less certain.

The loss of life through policing is tragic and I believe looking at the movies we create to make sense of the world may offer us some insight into how we view it.

In North Minneapolis, boys are taught often by other young men, as fatherless homes have been the norm since the 70’s. We don’t talk about that.

Some black fathers are very active and it shows. I know the father of Medaria Arradondo Jr., who is the city’s first black chief of police. He has another son who was a fire chief. Medaria Arradondo Sr. is among the finest men I’ve ever met.

I would love to have him teach young men how to engage with police.

My condolences go out to both the Blevins and the Damond families. Minnesota grieves with you as they do with the family of Philando Castile.

The trial of Officer Mohamed Noor has been the most vigorously prosecuted officer involved shooting in Minnesota, and possibly in the history of the United States.

My condolences to the families and the families of the police officers, Minnesotans, and Australians whose lives are forever changed.


Next Up: Keith Ellison, Officer Mohamed Noor and the automatic outgroup derogation of men

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