Commander: Anti-police sentiment has got to end

By Paul Hassing

The second clause of The American Legion preamble to its constitution reads; “To maintain Law and Order,” a clause that is recited before all official meetings.

Minnesota cannot expect to conduct a civil society, build an economy and practice a vibrant democracy amid crime and indifference to crime. The anti-police sentiment flourishing through some parts of Minnesota has to stop. We are not a lawless society, and we need to have respect for all Minnesotans and obey the law.

It was a disgrace to see Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty use a State Patrol traffic stop for her own political purposes. Two troopers feared for their lives, and one had to fire his sidearm to protect the life of the other. Moriarty felt murder and manslaughter charges were in order despite national experts saying the contrary.

In other words, she set aside clear legal principles to score political points with an electorate she felt wanted to see law enforcement in prison despite the evidence. We were glad to hear Gov. Tim Walz was going to pull her off the case if she hadn’t dropped the charges.

Paul Hassing mugshot
Paul Hassing

It is in this anti-police environment where criminals feel brazen enough to shoot the police officers who are on the streets fighting crime trying to keep the citizens of Minnesota safe. Our hearts and prayers go out to Minneapolis Police Officer Jamal Mitchell’s family. This brave man was killed in an ambush shooting on May 30. Minnesota needs officers like Mitchell, who previously had gone into a burning building to save a life.

His killer had a lengthy criminal record, with two warrants out for his arrest. No doubt he should have been behind bars from his August 2022 arrest for illegal possession of a firearm. Instead, he was released without bond, then skipped his hearing. It goes without saying: Mitchell would be alive today.

The Minnesota American Legion calls on leaders in all parts of this state to stand behind law enforcement. They have dangerous jobs and have to make difficult decisions affecting the lives of citizens. They work in the public eye. Divisive political rhetoric only makes their work more difficult. It’s time to stop the rhetoric.

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara said it well: “People really, really want police protection. They just want good police officers. But then you have wealthier residents on the other side of town who are still screaming to get rid of us, even though the most that happens in their neighborhoods is change getting stolen out of their cars.”

Paul Hassing is the commander of the Minnesota American Legion.