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Respect

Recently there was disturbing footage of a toddler cursing and swinging at cops while adults in the background hurled curse words and slurs in St. Paul, Minnesota, where crime has soared since the killing of George Floyd in 2020. The footage was recorded last week while police were at a home to serve a search warrant in the hunt for a murder suspect, according to local  news outlet Alpha News.

The 30-second clip shows the unnamed boy standing in the street in his underwear, barefoot, screaming: ‘Shut up b***h!’  at a black police officer and telling him to ‘shut the f**k up!’  He then turned to the other cop and made fun of his ‘ugly a** shoes’, while other barefoot and barely-dressed kids stood around him.  More disturbing is the commentary in the background of the video from what sounds like an adult male who called the black police officer ‘Oreo head’.  It’s unclear where the child’s parents were, or who the subject of the murder warrant was.

Crime in the Twin Cities soared in the wake of the 2020 unrest that followed George Floyd’s killing by cops, so much so that St. Paul increased its police funding in 2021.  There are now 620 sworn officers in the city of 305,877.

Journalist Sheila Qualls shared the story first in a column for Alpha News, where she wrote that the ‘behavior of these children is eerily similar to the behaviors of rioters who burned and looted Minneapolis two years ago.’

‘They cussed, berated, and struck police officers with their fists. This video is disgraceful. Heartbreaking. It is unsettling to law enforcement officers who encounter this behavior daily. It should be frightening to all of us.  It should be embarrassing to leaders who have failed to lead a community toward virtue and morality,’ Qualls wrote.

As expected, crime has been on the rise in Minneapolis and St. Paul suburbs over the last two years.  Overall crime in Saint Paul rose 15 percent according to yearly statistics.  The number of murders in Minnesota increased an alarming 58 percent in 2020 and set a new record, after the state became the epicenter of demands to ‘defund’ the police.  In 2020, 185 people were murdered across the state, marking an all-time high and sharp increase from 117 the year before, according to the state’s Uniform Crime Report.

Violent crimes have surged in the Twin Cities with a record 135 homicides in 2021. It compares with 22 in 2019.  While the suburbs did not see an increase in violent crimes, nearly all saw increases in property crimes including thefts.

When morals and ethics fail then so will respect for others and their property.  Without proper direction from a leader then those that follow will fail.  No matter how abhorrent the behavior of the children, this is not the fault of the child.  The child must trust and learn the behavior of their parents.  Their parent is their most trusted leader and they will replicate the behavior of their leader.

A free society is predicated on trust.  It is that simple.  If you trust the lawmakers, you trust the law they make, then you trust the enforcement of that law.   Clearly, the converse of that is true also.  If there is no trust in the lawmakers, then you believe the law they make to be unfair, and the enforcers of the law to be conspired against you.  This is when brutal force must be used to enforce the law.

As lawyers we cannot demand respect because we yell phone numbers, jump over cars, and show how much money we can make a client on a billboard.  We must earn the respect of our community by being a member of our community.  We must earn respect by caring more about our client, than the amount of work we have left to do.  We must earn respect by valuing the benefit to our client, more than the value to our wallets.

Very simple:  If you want to teach respect to those around you, than you must show respect to those around you.

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