To the editor,
In her July 16 column addressing the Monona police response to the report of a suspicious person (i.e. a black person conducting themselves normally in the white caller’s world) Ms. Schubert misrepresents the interaction between the three officers and Mr. Keonte Furdge on June 2. There was no report of a home invasion, a domestic disturbance, child abuse or a robbery in progress. Mr. Furdge was sitting on his front steps at 10:30 in the morning, according to the caller.
By June 2, 2020, police departments everywhere should have been hyper aware of the dangers of armed confrontation in response to a vague “suspicious person” report.
My office was burglarized twice during my 42-year career in Monona. When one encounters a burglary, it’s pretty obvious – burglars are not tidy. Immediately, one sees chaos – stuff thrown about, broken, generally pillaged. Both law enforcement and crime victims will attest to that.
The police body cam video shows a neat, tidy home with no sounds of ongoing mayhem – just a black voice talking from the bedroom. Hardly the evidence of a robbery in progress.
Until this year, I had not understood what systemic racism looks like and the typical white denial and defense of this attitude. I do now.
Had the person emerging from the bedroom been white, not black, guns (if drawn at all) would have not remained trained on the renter, handcuffs would not have been placed. Likely, a simple, “Sorry about the misunderstanding, sir!” would have encompassed the entire encounter. There was no evidence or provocation suggesting the need for an aggressive response – the occupant was black, not white.
Indeed, the outcome could have been potentially fatal were it not for the cool, de-escalating demeanor of Mr. Furdge.
Ms. Schubert supports her stance by providing scenarios of the legitimate need for immediate, forceful police intervention. While the examples she presents are valid, they simply do not apply to any area of the encounter with Keonte Furdge.
If systemic racism is to end, we must admit and recognize its existence, then re-examine and change our own attitudes and responses to our fellow citizens of color.