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Cindy Killion: We must confront, question, discuss the incident in Goodview

June 3, 2018

An encounter this week between Goodview police officers and two black children feels all too familiar and has brought the uncomfortable discussion about policing black bodies to our community.

There possibly are two issues involved: people taking it upon themselves to police black bodies in public spaces, and how police officers respond. There is not much information being released about the specifics of the encounter while the police department investigates the incident to determine whether the officer acted appropriately. In the meantime, the children have been referred to the Winona County Attorney’s office on charges of disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process.

Because there is a lack of information being provided the public, it is difficult for the public to make any judgments about the actions of those involved.

With that being said, the contours of the video of the encounter look and feel like those to which we’ve been exposed through headlines and images.

It is my hope that our community responds so we can work toward making it safe for all residents, and one in which everyone’s humanity is acknowledged and respected.

We need to rise above what New York Times’ editorial writer Roxane Gay describes as “a cultural moment that makes white people feel exceedingly comfortable and entitled as they police black bodies in public spaces.”

We also need to make our police officers accountable for their actions. Throwing a 12-year-old child to the ground, kneeling on his neck and handcuffing him is not acceptable in this particular situation.

It’s a fine line — making our police forces accountable without being accused of police bashing. Bashing police officers is not useful but we must confront it, question it, discuss it and take action to make this community one in which everyone is heard and respected.

Cindy Killion, Emerita, Winona State University