Brooklyn Center, Minnesota’s City Manager Curt Boganey came across in a press conference yesterday as the sort of stalwart and honorable public servant required in these turbulent times. For this, he is now unemployed.
Boganey stood up for the right of due process in the investigation of the police officer who tragically shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black youth. It appears from the body cam evidence that the officer accidentally grabbed her gun rather than her taser, with catastrophic results. Riots broke out in the wake of the shooting.
We won’t know what actually happened until an investigation is completed. When asked if the officer who fired the gun, who has been placed on leave, should receive immediate dismissal, Boganey said this:
All employees working for the City of Brooklyn Center are entitled to due process with respect to discipline. This employee will receive due process and that’s really all that I can say today.
When this reply proved unsatisfactory, Boganey explained:
You know, I understand and appreciate the comment that you made and why you said it, but if I were to answer that question, I would be contradicting what I said a moment ago, which is to say that all employees are entitled to due process and, after that, due process discipline will be determined. If I were to say anything else, I would actually be contradicting the idea of due process.
Due process is a cornerstone of our legal system. It protects us all from being punished and stripped of our rights and perhaps even our lives without a fair process. We are all vulnerable to the mob without due process.
Instead of being proud of Boganey’s calm adherence to the law, the Brooklyn Center City Council convened an emergency meeting to fire Boganey. At least once Council member made clear her reason for believing that Boganey should go—her own fear of the mob.
At a virtual council workshop, Council Member Kris Lawrence-Anderson said she voted to remove the city manager because she feared for her property and retaliation by protestors if she had voted to keep him.
“He was doing a great job. I respect him dearly,” she said. “I didn’t want repercussions at a personal level.”
Our hearts go out to Daunte Wright’s family and friends, but such surrender to the mob as shown in Lawrence-Anderson’s remarks is dangerous and a harbinger of things to come unless we can find more heroic men and women such as Curt Boganey. Here is what Brooklyn Center looked like last night. Just for the record: Boganey is a person of color.
We have come to take these riots that break out after what are now termed “police-involved” shootings granted. Maybe we are not even surprised or shocked when a City Council member admits that she voted to fire a good public servant because she feared the mob.
Nor indeed do most public officials even criticize the mob. As Rich Lowry observes, we simply accept mobs as the way things are now. Lowry writes:
Police in Brooklyn Center, Minn., shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop last weekend, leading to a violent siege of the police headquarters and looting of local businesses.
This dynamic is now widely accepted as the norm. Any officer-involved shooting — no matter how justified or illicit, whether we know everything about the circumstances or nothing at all — is simply assumed to be the occasion for mayhem.
This reflex toward disorder has contributed to a nightmarish spiral in much of urban America, which is experiencing a historic surge in murders.
Brooklyn Center is especially fraught, because it is a suburb just outside Minneapolis, the city devastated by riots in the wake of the death of George Floyd last year — and on edge during the ongoing trial of Derek Chauvin, the cop charged with killing him.
. . .
The God-awful shooting doesn’t support the dominant narrative of racist police hunting down young black men. The cop’s tone, after she realizes what she has done, is one of instant remorse.
Not that the facts matter much in these cases. The violence and looting began in Brooklyn Center before anyone knew with any specificity what had happened.
These spasms of destruction are not, as their apologists maintain, relatively cost-free acts. Every indication is that lawlessness begets more lawlessness, hurting the very people that purveyors of anti-police outrage say they want to help and protect. Yet blue politicians continue to irresponsibly fan the flames, as Minnesota Gov. Tim Waltz did with a tweet, making statements that assume racist malice on the cops’ part.
The name of the officer who shot Wright has been released.
We shall know more about her in the days to come.
In a less pitiless society, we would at least entertain the notion that this officer, if indeed the shooting was a terrible accident, will have to live with this the rest of her life. She does deserve due process, as do we all.
It is a sordid mess, and we should all beware when the right of due process is discarded. At least there was one outstanding public citizen, Mr. Boganey, who represented us at our best. We should all be very afraid if perhaps there are more Kris Lawrence-Andersons (and, really, we can see why she was frightened) than Curt Boganeys.