Black Lives Matter activist in St. Paul Minnesota claimed that they saw a black man “lynched” and broadcast the message on social media. “[W]e ride pass the park around 6 a.m. and witness a brother hanging dead from a tree!” Davion Gatlin stated on Facebook. “They still killing us and we still killing each other! #MakeGoViral”
However, their activism was quickly discovered to be built on lies, as what they saw was actually a suicide. “St. Paul PD was quick to call this a suicide while witnesses on the scene say the man’s hands were tied behind his back. We are hurt by the tragic news and know that this despicable & disgusting act of cowardice will not be erased,” they stated.
However, there is one major problem with these activist’s story the man they saw hanging was a 50-year-old white man named Michael Bringle – this person was not a black man.
To make matters even worse for the group, Bringle had committed suicide and his hands were not bound, as reported by the police. Lori Hedican, the office’s chief investigator, said there’s “no evidence that it was anything other than suicide.”
Although several members brought up the deception to the group, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis refused to issue a correction, or to amend their store – instead, being perfectly happy with fomenting racial hatred and racial anger, based on a lie.
Kelly Brown-Rozowski, Bringle’s sister came forth and spoke at a news conference. She stated that her brother was a “good, hardworking man” who “loved his children” and was “a great brother.” She went on to address false rumors that were spread about Bringle and stated “To me, hearing about it on Facebook was so devastating,” she said, according to the Star-Tribune. “This isn’t something to be shared in such a tragic way. He should be remembered for what a great man he was.”
Furthermore, the police requested that all graphic photos of Bringle to be taken down. “His hands were not tied behind his back,” police said. “Michael’s passing is incredibly hard on those who cared about him, and their pain has been compounded by the inconsiderate and downright disgusting act of posting and sharing a picture of him hanging from a tree on Facebook. If you have posted or shared the photos, please take them down so the family can begin to heal and Michael can rest in peace.” And that, “Instead of mourning, his family members had to spend part of their day worrying about a photo posted on Facebook of him hanging from a tree and correcting misinformation about his death.”
While Black Lives Matters Minneapolis eventually relented after enormous pressure from the police, the community, and from social media, the damage was done. To add insult to injury, they issued a hollow and evasive retraction. “We would like to apologize to the family of Micheal Bringle for sharing those photos & also retract our statements regarding what happened this morning,” they wrote in a Facebook update. “As more information came out & Mr. Bringle’s family came forward it became clear that this was an unfortunate incident caused by mental illness.” But, they insist they did nothing wrong, because in perpetuating this lie, they, “were simply echoing the questions and concerns that community members had.”
On the other hand, Black Lives Matter St. Paul stood by their grounds, they stated, “As we did our own investigation we discovered the truth. Our intentions are not to spread lies, but to figure out what happen given the small information we received. The young man who took the picture didn’t want to come forward, which we could understand, but that took social media by storm, so all we could do was get to the bottom of this. We are not here to appease the status quo, but to set the truth free. … In the picture, he did appear black, but he wasn’t. However, they say his hands weren’t bound behind his back, but in the picture that was taken it appeared that way. No matter what — He has our condolences. It’s unclear what exactly happened, but may his body rest in peace”
If this is the sort of example of personal responsibility that leading black activist groups are providing to the black community – don’t look for anything to get better any time soon.