Michael Cavlan: Star Tribune article misrepresents the truth

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This is a response to the Star Tribune article November 27th by Strib writer Paul Walsh titled “Driver who hit protester was fleeing ‘the mob’ but is considered suspect” about an incident at Lake Street and Hiawatha outside the 3rd Precinct Police headquarters rally. In response to the Grand Jury acquittal of the Ferguson, MO police officer who killed Michael Brown.

I was there and in fact got knocked over by the driver myself.

This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.

First, the title itself is a flat out lie. The article does not get any better. The initial title was “Driver who hit protester was fleeing ‘the mob.” No mention of him being a suspect. The title was changed later when the police issued another report—more on that later.

The Strib reported that “The driver who lurched into a south Minneapolis intersection packed with protesters on Tuesday, November 25 was “attempting to flee from the mob” when he ran into and slightly injured a 16-year-old girl as others perched on the hood of his car, police said Wednesday.”

The “mob” included the 16 year old girl who was run over. The people “perched on top of the car” were, in fact, victims that driver Jeffrey Patrick Rice had just recklessly hit with his car.  Rice has a history of DWI convictions.

The Star Tribune and police report both falsely claimed “The victim’s vehicle was damaged by a large group of people. While [the driver] was attempting to flee from the mob, he struck a pedestrian.”

That information was in the initial police report and the Star Tribune reporter repeated it without question. However, had the report simply looked at the video provided with the story, he would have recognized it as a complete fabrication. Specifically, the video, captured by helicopter very clearly shows Rice driving around a car in front of him and very recklessly driving into the crowd. But it would take some actual investigative journalism and journalistic integrity to report that. Watching the video, it is obvious that it was only by the grace of God that no one was killed.

Now we need to take a look at the “slight injury” of the 16 year old girl that Rice ran over.  When Rice briefly stopped his car, the crowd descended on it. Missing from the Strib “news” was that the teen was trapped under his car. People were, quite rightly trying to MOVE THE CAR OFF OF HER.  Myself and others were trying to lift the car off of her as Rice was not moving and had his windows locked. Essentially, the “mob” was trying to save the teen trapped under the car.  It was at this point that Rice hit the gas and drove through the crowd again, knocking more people over and dragging the teen.

According the the Star Tribune “the Wednesday morning police report listed Rice as a “victim” and the injured girl was entered under the “other” category.

The Strib article included an interview with Rice’s mother.  Given that she was not present at the incident, the interview is irrelevant but appears to be an attempt to humanize and build sympathy for Rice.

If a driver had plowed through a crowd at a Vikings game, Holidazzle, or other public event, it is doubtful that the police would have filed a report naming the driver a victim and referring to the actual victims as “other.”  Further, it is unlikely that the Strib would have given the driver such sympathetic coverage.

It should also be noted that neither the Strib nor the Minneapolis Police interviewed witnesses before filing their reports.

Minneapolis police released Rice, a man who had just recklessly driven into a crowd at a protest rally about police accountability, was released without as much as a ticket and the Strib reported on the lies of the police in justifying their actions as if they were truth.  The Minneapolis Police Department and the Strib should both be condemned for their framing of this situation in which people were recklessly and needlessly injured while exercising their First Amendment rights.

I called the Star Tribune reporter who wrote this complete lie of an article and tried to give him the facts.  No corrections were forthcoming.

Local ABC affiliate KSTP Channel 5 was also promoting the same kind of garbage. I commented on their website version of the story and spoke as an eyewitness who could challenge their version. Their response was to simply delete my comments.  Keep in mind that this media outlet perpetrated the pointergate lie.

This is the nature of mainstream journalism.  Even with video from multiple viewpoints and a large number of eyewitnesses, these media outlets felt compelled to report the police’s twisted version of the event.  Had the community not spoken out, Rice would still be listed as the victim and the real victim in this incident would still be listed as “other.”

The Star Tribune and KSTP both need to be exposed as the fraudulent news sources they truly are. They have a long history of misleading and misinforming the people of the Twin Cities and Minnesota.

Until they change their behavior I suggest an open public boycott of the Star Tribune and KSTP Channel 5, as well as those most important to them—their advertisers.

Better yet, let us support real, credible news sources such as the Twin Cities Daily Planet.  The community deserves media that will not simply parrot “official sources” without question but that practice actual investigative journalism. In other words let’s replace the Star Tribune and KSTP.

Michael Cavlan is an activist with Communities United Against Police Brutality, one of the main organizers of the rally. He is also a Street Medic, decades-long peace, social justice and media accountability activist. He has written over 50 letters to the editor and around eight editorial responses to the Star Tribune, both as an activist and as a candidate for office in Minnesota.  The Star Tribune has never published one of them.