This case [protesters hit by a car] continues to bother me, since it has such huge implications on the role of the police in our government, the rights of legal protest, the separation of powers and (yes) the working conditions of many, many honest police officers.
If no legal action is taken against a driver who clearly struck pedestrians and then fled the scene of an accident, it gives a really horrible signal that threatens the safety of us all, including police officers themselves. In a democracy, we simply cannot afford the mistrust that such an arrogant lack of action would imply.
There are a number of actions we can take:
Most importantly, if we know witnesses to the crimes, they should be strongly encouraged to leave a deposition with the Third Precinct.
Second, call your City Council member. You can be connected by calling 612-673-2200.
Third, call Mayor Betsy Hodges’ office at 612-673-2100. The mayor is, in effect, the administrative person in charge of those in charge of the police department. She is the chief’s boss.
Fourth, call the Hennepin County Prosecutor’s Office at 612-348-2040. Option 9 will get you the operator who can get you any information available on the driver of the hit-and-run vehicle, Jeffrey Patrick Rice.
Fifth, call the head of the Third Precinct to get an update on information. He is Inspector Michael Sullivan and the number is 612-673-5703.
I am amazed that so much time has gone by and that the driver has not yet even been issued a ticket. This is a huge stain on the credibility of our police department and raises important questions about the judgment of those in charge. I simply cannot imagine that we would be in this situation had a police officer been struck and hospitalized instead of a 16-year-old girl.
Pedestrians were hit by a known driver. That driver fled the scene. Those facts are not in dispute. Let the police do their job of charging the driver and let the judge hear evidence that might mitigate the circumstances. Police are not judge, jury or executioners in a free society. We should not allow our democracy to become a police state.