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Hulett: Front page news

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Mike Hulett, opinion columnist for The Forum Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

New homes are springing up all over Moorhead. So too are apartments, condos and restaurants along the First Avenue/Center Avenue corridor. Not much about that in local media lately. Crickets on plans for Moorhead’s downtown.

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The new tower on Broadway is about ready, as are the condos next to Fargo City Hall. West Fargo and Fargo continue to expand with abundant new homes and businesses. Not much media coverage.
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OK, we all know why. COVID-19 panic and George Floyd aftershocks have dominated local news.
Forum reporters, columnists and letter writers have covered every aspect of COVID-19 many times over. Mask or no mask? Open our schools or keep the kids cooped up alone in their rooms? My expert is better than your expert.

Reporters, columnists and letter writers have also used lots of ink on the aftermath of George Floyd being brutally killed by a rogue Minneapolis police officer. Constructive public dialogue to identify, discuss and work on eliminating any recurring racist behaviors anywhere in our community was proposed by Mayor Judd some time ago.

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Why then has public dialogue so far involved only local law enforcement? A group of racial justice activists has gained the attention of local media by organizing protest marches, presenting periodic public briefings, and appearing at City Commission meetings. Their singular focus: the police.

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It began with a protest march honoring Floyd. That was followed by periodic criticism of an assistant chief of police they claim misbehaved during a downtown Fargo riot that followed their protest march. Soon it was who would select the next Fargo police chief. Then another protest march.
A public briefing followed featuring a man claiming police illegally detained him based on race. An investigation has revealed it never happened.

Then, lobbying the City Commission for police policy changes. Front page local news.

What’s next? Defunding police is happening close by in Minneapolis. Budget time is coming for the Moorhead City Council. Protesters could easily be organized to march over from Island Park chanting: “No justice, no peace, defund the police.”

Like most residents in the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo community, we in Moorhead appreciate our cops. Moorhead provides outstanding training and working conditions. Moorhead Police and our sisters and brothers at the Clay County Sheriff’s Office are fair-minded, first class peace officers supervised by highly competent management. They operate on thin budgets.

“Systemic police racism,” a volatile Black Lives Matter slogan used by racial activists around the USA, has never been clearly defined. It is important to understand that crime data absolutely does not support any notion of a “system” of police racism here or anywhere else in the USA.

While some columnists and readers fear doing so, it is reasonable to consider: What is the ultimate goal of local activists? Will they continue reaching the evening news and front page with periodic negative police stories? Moreover, will ongoing negative police rhetoric resonate with Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo residents?

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Certainly most people in our region oppose racist behaviors irrespective of the source. They also support law and order and maintaining safe homes and streets.

Related Topics: BLACK LIVES MATTERPOLICE
Opinion by Mike Hulett
InForum columnist Mike Hulett is a longtime resident of the Fargo-Moorhead area and regular contributor to the opinion page.
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