Good intentions sometimes go astray. After the funeral of slain Minneapolis police officer Melissa Schmidt, city council member Natalie Johnson Lee wrote a letter asking residents in her ward to grieve for the officer. But she also expressed remorse for Martha Donald, who probably fired the shots that killed Schmidt and who also perished in the gunfight.
Bad mistake. Minneapolis police union officials, outraged that Johnson Lee should appear to have equal sympathy for Schmidt and Donald, immediately demanded her resignation.
This was an overreaction, although understandable, given the pain Minneapolis officers feel at the first loss of one of their number in the line of duty since 1992. Johnson Lee obviously intended no slight against Schmidt. What she was trying to do was show consideration for suffering members of Donald's family.
Still, Johnson Lee bungled by mentioning Schmidt and Donald, whom she referred to as "two fellow citizens," in the same context. There's a vast difference between the two.
Martha Donald died because her erratic and threatening behavior put citizens at risk, necessitating that the police be called. Melissa Schmidt responded to that call and died out of courageous and steadfast devotion to duty, something that is common among law enforcement officers but all-too-often taken for granted.
Johnson Lee should now acknowledge that she understands that difference and make a public apology.
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