Black Lives Matter Minnesota has now officially apologized for spreading the false claim that a black man had been "lynched" and hung to death in a public park after officials confirmed that the man hung himself and was in fact white.
City Pages reports that soon after 50-year-old Michael Bringle was found dead by hanging early Tuesday, BLM Minnesota activist Davion Gatlin posted three images of the tragic incident to Facebook with the message, "They still killing us and we still killing each other!" along with the hashtag #MakeGoViral.
The post did indeed go viral, with many who shared it believing the false assumption that the man was African-American and that his hands were "tied behind his back." Pioneer Press reports that Gatlin's post "was shared more than 11,500 times in a 13-hour span."
But within hours, officials had determined that his death was a suicide, the man was Caucasian, and his hands were not tied behind his back. The chief investigator told the outlet that there was no reason to believe his death was "anything but a suicide."
St. Paul Police issued a statement later that day on Facebook explaining that the man's death had been ruled a suicide:
Officers were dispatched to the park at about 5:40 morning after the man was found by a passerby on his way to work. Our officers located the man and called Saint Paul Fire medics to the scene. Sadly, there was nothing they could do. The Ramsey County medical examiner took possession of the man's body and has ruled the cause of death to be suicide. These types of cases are difficult for everyone — people who loved the man, the community and our officers. We're keeping all in our thoughts and prayers.
Despite authorities' explanation, City Pages notes, Black Lives Matter St. Paul (which is not officially affiliated with BLM Minneapolis) "disagree[d] strongly with that assessment, claiming on its own Facebook page that the man found in Indian Mounds Park had been 'lynched,' and reiterated the claim his hands were tied behind his back."
Both the police and the media, alleged BLM St. Paul, were "lying" about what really happened, and the group even went so far as to call a press conference that day to declare, "We're not letting this go under the rug!"
In an attempt to quell the growing furor over the false claim, the police issued a statement Tuesday with an image of Bringle's white sister (full post below).
The woman in this photo is Kelly Brown-Rozowski.
Her brother is the man who tragically took his own life in Indian Mounds Park this morning.
His name was Micheal Bringle, and 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.
"My brother was a good guy, and this isn’t something to be shared in such a tragic way," said Brown-Rozowski. "He should be remembered for what a great man he was and what a survivor he was. He was an East Sider through and through."
In response, BLM Minneapolis finally issued an apology on their Facebook page Tuesday night:
We would like to apologize to the family of Micheal Bringle for sharing those photos & also retract our statements regarding what happened this morning. As more information came out & Mr.Bringle’s family came forward it became clear that this was an unfortunate incident caused by mental illness. We are sorry if our post offended anyone & hope that folks see we were simply echoing the questions and concerns that community members had.
BLM St. Paul eventually deleted its post and wrote a partial apology on Wednesday on Facebook:
Our intentions are not to spread lies, but to figure out what happen given the small information we received. … We are not here appease the status quo, but to set the truth free.
Below is the rest of the text of the message posted by the St. Paul Police Department providing the details about what actually happened on Tuesday, rather than a false claim perpetuated by ideologically fueled hysteria:
Here are the facts about his passing as well as some things you might want to know about Micheal:
- Micheal grew up and lived on the East Side.
- He loved working on old cars and helping his friends.
- He was a kind person who was easy to like.
- Indian Mounds Park was one of his favorite places.
- Micheal took his own life, according to the medical examiner.
- His hands were not tied behind his back.
- He was 50 years old, white and struggled with mental health.
Micheal'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 Micheal can rest in peace.