A Minnesota resident’s award acceptance speech has gone viral after he called out the police department that recognized him. Alex Mingus was honored by the St. Paul Police Department for performing “an act of gallantry and valor” in response to a shooting. But while he accepted the Chief’s Medal of Valor award, Mingus called out the lack of police action on the scene. His award acceptance has since become an act of viral political protest for calling out the same department that awarded him for its failure to protect Black lives.
The ceremony began with St. Paul Interim Police Chief Jeremy Ellison welcoming Mingus and applauding him for his action during the shooting last year on Oct. 8. According to Ellison, Mingus responded to the incident after hearing gunshots while driving to work with his wife. He then followed a van that “left at a high rate of speed” from what looked like the direction of the shooting. When the van pulled over, a man who was “bleeding profusely” asked for help.
According to Ellison, Mingus then wrapped a shirt around the shooting victim’s arm “to try and slow the bleeding,” as an artery in the victim’s wrist had “been severely damaged by a bullet.”
“Doctors stated that the aid provided by Alex prevented this man from dying,” Ellison said.
Mingus was then given a chance to speak, but before doing so he removed the sweatshirt he was wearing to reveal a bright red T-shirt reading “SMASH WHITE SUPREMACY.”
He recalled what he witnessed that night, noting that he saw at least nine squad cars racing past him as he tried to help the victim, but none stopped despite him trying to flag them down.
“That was a potential of 18 people, 18 people could’ve stopped to help preserve life but 18 people chose to go to a potential threat—and I recognize the man had a pistol and we didn’t know what he was doing,” Mingus said.
Mingus called out the police even further, noting that their inability to protect Black people has enabled this violence against them.
“The police should be glad it was so cold,” he said, “Because this was bringing up George Floyd all over again. People would have been out in the streets the same way if it wasn’t in the Minnesota winter.”
He added that this violence against Black folks is not new, and while protests across the country have been peaceful, they have also been met with violence.
While Mingus said he appreciated the recognition, he added that he felt “very uncomfortable” being at the department. “I do not rock with the police,” he said.
Promising to give his medal and certificate to his mother and son, Mingus added: “I just want folks to know. They don’t keep us safe. We keep us safe.”
He ended with: “Riots work.”
Watch his full speech below:
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