The police “are not protecting us,” he says as he accepts the police medal for bravery

As Alex Mingus took to the podium after receiving the St. Paul Police Commissioner’s Award for bravery for rescuing a man who had been shot, he had a message to deliver.

“I just want people to know they’re not protecting us,” he said of the police. “we protect us.”

On Site Public Media captured a video of Mingus’ speech last week that has gone viral and garnered national media attention.

Mingus, a 42-year-old father and a Minneapolis school worker, said Monday he used his limited medical knowledge to help the man who was shot in St. Paul’s North End neighborhood.

He was driving his wife to work on the morning of October 8, 2021 when he saw the aftermath of the attack and stopped to help. He used a towel and shirt to stop bleeding from a gunshot wound.

An officer later informed Mingus that a bullet had severed an artery in the man’s arm and he would likely have died had Mingus not helped.

Mingus is black and told police gathered at the awards ceremony last week: “I feel very uncomfortable being here with you guys.”

But he said on Monday that despite his discomfort, he went to the event because he wanted to use the time to make a statement. He said he never expected so many people to hear his message and respond positively.

After Interim Police Commissioner Jeremy Ellison presented him with the award, Mingus removed his sweatshirt. Underneath he wore a t-shirt that read “Smash White Supremacy”.

He had the shirt made some time ago and said in an interview on Monday that he wore it that day “because police are one of the most powerful weapons of white supremacy in our world. They started out as slave catchers and haven’t changed much. All the police do is protect rich white people’s property.”

When Mingus was with the shooting victim, he said nine squad cars drove by. He tried to stop them, but they didn’t stop.

“That was a potential of 18 people who could have stopped to save lives, but 18 people chose to go to a potential threat,” he said of officers who responded to the suspect shooting. “And I realize the man had a gun and we didn’t know what he was doing.”

Mingus said he is a certified weapons instructor.

The police department said officers got into a standoff with a suspect who threatened to shoot himself and others.

“Your officers quickly got bystanders out of the line of fire,” then-Police Chief Todd Axtell wrote on Twitter at the time. “…And finally, after nearly two hours, they took the man into custody without the use of force.”

Last week, after Mingus said during his speech that it’s community members who protect each other, he concluded by saying, “riots work.”

Mingus said on Monday that his comment had prompted some people to say he was campaigning for riots, but he added: “I’m not urging anyone to take to the streets and riot now, that seems silly. I was just saying these things work when you need them to work. I live in South Minneapolis, I live near the Third Precinct. I was there during the riot (after George Floyd was killed).”

He invited On Site Public Media to attend the awards ceremony but said he was shocked by the attention the video received.

Toussaint Morrison founded On Site Public Media, one of the few black-owned media companies in Minnesota. Morrison said Monday that he and Mingus have been friends since they met in Minneapolis in the 1980s. RayLynn Prokasky was the cinematographer for the video.

“I don’t think he really understood the seriousness of what he was trying to say or how he was trying to say it,” Morrison said of Mingus on Monday. “That’s really the lens of On Site – being in places… that a lot of people need to see, hear, and then make up their own minds about.”

After Mingus spoke, he and Ellison thanked him, they exchanged a punch, and Mingus left.

In a statement Monday, the police department said it was honored to recognize Mingus’ “life-saving work.”

“We are fortunate that the victim survived and grateful that Mr. Mingus was there to make a difference for the victim,” the statement said. “Moreover, we are pleased that the suspect was quickly stopped, charged and held accountable for his violent act. These two results are the best we could have hoped for after such a tragic incident and Mr Mingus played a crucial role in that. Recognizing his actions on this day is important to our community and our ongoing mission to work with our community to provide trusted service with respect.” The police “are not protecting us,” he says as he accepts the police medal for bravery

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