Looting for Winston Smith or someone like him (2)

I correctly named Winston Boogie Smith as the decedent in Minneapolis’s police-involved shooting Thursday afternoon. Smith was the target of an arrest operation conducted by the Joint Law Enforcement Fugitive Task Force in the parking ramp adjacent to Calhoun Square in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. Picking up where I left off yesterday morning, I want to add the following notes to update the story.

• The Star Tribune reported last night at 7:19 pm: “Thursday night’s protests were relatively small in comparison to the widespread demonstrations that followed Floyd’s death but still occasionally veered into vandalism and arson.”

• “Veered” represents a creative choice of verb for rioting. The subject of the verb is “demonstrations.” The verb takes no object; its use here is intransitive. What we have is the Star Tribune version of crime without a perpetrator or a victim. That is really well done.

• Students of ancient history may recall the demonstrations that veered into vandalism and arson all around the Twin Cities a year ago. The ruins serve as a reminder.

• The Star Tribune wants badly to present Winston Boogie Smith in the obligatory sainted form to which we have become accustomed. The Star Tribune lets on, however: “Court records show the warrant was issued after Smith failed to appear for sentencing May 19 in Ramsey County District Court. He had been charged with two felonies in November 2019 when officers found him at a White Bear Lake apartment with a loaded handgun in his car. As a felon, he was prohibited from owning a gun. At that time, he had a Hennepin County warrant for violating the terms of his probation for an aggravated robbery conviction for a 2017 incident involving his ex-girlfriend.”

• And this: “Officers arrested Smith at the apartment and found a 9mm handgun with a round in the chamber under the driver’s seat of his Camaro, the complaint said. Smith also faced a felony charge of fleeing police that was scheduled for trial in September.”

• And this: “A year ago, Bloomington police tried to arrest Smith on the two warrants after recognizing him in a Mall of America parking lot. When Smith saw the officers, he took off at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour with multiple police cars chasing him with lights and sirens activated, according to court documents. When Smith entered Hwy. 494 driving in the wrong direction, police ended the pursuit because of public safety concerns. He was charged with fleeing police, a felony.”

• Smith was something of a one-man crime wave. Otherwise, however, he was just another solid citizen — a family man and a “comedian” with a killer sense of humor (see below).

• The Star Tribune separately reported at 8:48 pm: “A protest held near the site where Smith was fatally shot by members of a U.S. Marshals Service task force went late into the night Friday; as of 11 p.m., it remained peaceful.” In other words, the protest did not veer into anything.

• And yet: “Activists blocked traffic at busy Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street during the Friday evening rush hour. Minneapolis police officers on bikes moved in to try to take control of the busy intersection, but protesters later blocked Lake Street again with a makeshift barricade of motorcycles, bike racks and dumpsters. There were some standoffs between protesters and officers through the night, but as of 11 p.m., no arrests had been reported.”

• Smith “was a comedian,” said his sister Tiesnia Floyd. “So this doesn’t sound like him.” He had a criminal record, but was trying to improve his circumstances, she said.

• CNN summarizes the background this way: “A warrant was issued for Winston Smith in late May after he failed to appear at a hearing after pleading guilty to a possession of a firearm charge in Ramsey County. Smith first appeared in court on the charge in December 2019, a court docket shows. In November 2020, on the eve of trial, he pleaded guilty to a single charge of possession of a firearm in a plea agreement, according to the docket. On May 19, 2021, a warrant was issued for failure to appear at a hearing in the case and he was ordered to be held without bond or bail, the docket shows.”

• The shooting is under investigation by Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The BCA has issued a statement on its findings so far.

• The statement provides this information: “Law enforcement serving on the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force were alerted to the whereabouts of man who had a warrant for a felony firearms violation. They made contact with him in an attempt to take him into custody. According to the preliminary investigation, at one point a Hennepin County sheriff’s deputy and a Ramsey County sheriff’s deputy serving on the task force discharged their weapons, striking the man. He was pronounced deceased at the scene.”

• And this: “Evidence at the scene indicates that the man fired his weapon from inside the vehicle. BCA crime scene personnel recovered a handgun as well as spent cartridge cases from inside the driver’s compartment.”

• Unfortunately: “The U.S Marshal Service currently does not allow the use of body cameras for officers serving on its North Star Fugitive Task Force. There is no squad camera footage of the incident.”

• What they call “unrest” will continue. In order to quiet things down in the Twin Cities, we should probably suspend all law enforcement activity. Just to be on the safe side.

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