September 17, 2021

September 17, 2021

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Here’s an Idea, Let’s Conduct the Minneapolis Trial on Social Media

by | May 28, 2020 |

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May I suggest that we all watch carefully what we write or share on social media about the current Minneapolis situation. I include myself in this suggestion. Understand, my following comments are in no way a defense of anyone’s actions. There are aspects of what happened in Minneapolis that I also find troubling and believe need to be fully investigated.
But the officers involved have not been tried and convicted (other than on social media), and they are entitled to their day in court. As well as a vigorous defense should any charges be proffered against them.
Perceptions, even a video can be misleading or misinterpreted. Everyone needs to place themselves in the same position as police officers are often placed. Would you want to be tried, convicted, and crucified on social media before you have even been given the opportunity to tell your side of the story, or explain what you did and why you did it? That is what has happened in the Minneapolis case, conviction by social media and the news media.
Just as it happened in Ferguson where the officer was ultimately cleared of all wrongdoing, and his actions were deemed justified following an extensive investigation by the Eric Holder Department of Justice and a Grand Jury. Just as in Baltimore where six Officers were judged without trial and convicted on social media of crimes they simply did not commit. All were eventually fully exonerated and returned to the job of protecting the citizens of Baltimore, with full back pay.

Social media is a powerful tool, but it can be used to inflame situations, spread lies and misinformation, and contribute to civil unrest, riots, and the loss of property and innocent lives.

We all remember the “Hands up don’t shoot” lie that came out of Ferguson. And that indeed was a bold faced lie. It never happened but it was spread on social media and the news media, and people, including politicians and professional athletes perpetuated that lie. As a result the City of Ferguson was nearly burned to the ground and innocent citizens lost property and livelihoods.
I have offered a different perspective on this Minneapolis situation⏤not as a defense of the actions of any of the officers involved, but simply to try to get people to ‘think’ about what is going on instead of reacting based on their emotions and what they see on social media.
I have pointed out legitimate concerns that I believe in fairness should be investigated fully before any judgment can be made. Which anyone, including these officers are entitled to. And something that everyone else would want for themselves.
As a result I have been attacked, called every name in the book, and accused of any number of horrendous things myself by people who haven’t a clue who I am or what I’ve done or stand for. Simply because I pointed out some things that may have gone against their emotional response to this situation. I’m a big boy, I can take it.
But why attack me? The answer is simple, “Because they saw it on social media or the unreliable news media so it must be true, and videos don’t lie”. Well sorry to piss in anyone’s oatmeal, social media is rarely one hundred percent accurate, and a video indeed does lie. That’s why it’s important to withhold condemnation of anyone until they have been afforded the opportunity to defend themselves.
I find it interesting that many of the people who were screaming loudest for mandatory body cameras for police officers after Ferguson have changed their tunes and now argue against them. Why is that? It’s because the police body cameras provided video proof supporting a police officer against lies and false allegations of police misconduct.
When I point out that everyone⏤including a police officer is entitled to due process, others will then argue “Well what about the dead guy’s due process”? A full, fair, and impartial investigation will determine whether he was indeed denied due process, and if he was, then he will receive it at that time. Justice delayed is not justice denied. Or it may reveal that he was just the unfortunate victim of an unintentional tragedy. Social Media isn’t going to make these determinations. All social media will do is cloud the issue and spread misinformation and politically motivated disinformation, as it did in Ferguson and Baltimore, and in other cities all across America.

How do we end the unintended tragedies in police work from continuing to happen? That’s a difficult question to answer. Law enforcement is not an exact science.

Fallible human beings are tasked with doing a difficult job under challenging and often dangerous situations. No matter how stringent the recruiting requirements are to get well educated, stable, and qualified individuals into police work⏤honest mistakes are and will be made. That’s why they are held accountable by their departments, and ultimately in civil court settlements.
Unless I see something outrageous that demands comment, this will be my last word about the Minneapolis situation until there is a final outcome. That’s the American way. Not trials by social media.

Del Wilber

Del is a former under cover employee of the Central Intelligence Agency serving overseas in Eastern and Western Europe, and the Middle East. He currently does consulting work in counterterrorism and writes columns, as well as appears as a guest on a number of programs.

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