Leadership fails ND in its foremost responsibility

Providing a modicum of security and ensuring a lawful, civil society that works for all citizens, regardless of race, creed, gender, religion, age, disability and orientation, is the first and foremost responsibility of our elected leaders.

Sure, some national politicians might feel their responsibility is primarily ‘bringing home the bacon’ from Washington, D.C., but that’s not exactly what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they constructed the infrastructure of our constitutional republic.

If you believe the former is true, then North Dakota’s delegation to D.C. has fundamentally failed the people they purport to represent.

Minot Daily News readers today can complete their education about the scandal involving the unnecessary death of former Ward County inmate Dustin Irwin, the ensuing investigations that confirmed wrong-doing, and the political cover-up that made sure no one would be held responsible, in today’s issue. This conclusion to our JailGate series is the culmination of a year’s work by the entire editorial and publishing departments of Minot Daily News; the results of reading and reviewing hundreds of pages of documents; conducting countless interviews; and the product of a news team that cumulatively has more than 100 years of experience in reporting in Minot.

The results are obvious. Something went very wrong in this instance and, as of now, no one has been held responsible for the death of a young man denied simple medical attention by Ward County. Politics simply trumped justice.

Minot Daily News has previously called upon Sens. John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp, Rep. Kevin Cramer and ND Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to intervene in this scandal. Among the pleas has been a call for a federal Civil Rights investigation into the death of Dustin Irwin and circumstances surrounding the death and the aftermath.

The silence has been deafening.

Imagine, if you will, the following scenario. In a small Mississippi town, a young African-American is taken into custody on minor charges. While in jail, the young man falls extremely ill. He is denied access to any kind of medical care. He later dies. Two investigations find wrong-doing on the part of the official responsible for the young man. Sometime later, a secret meeting of an all-white county commission is exclusively focused on making sure the allegedly responsible public official walks away without facing trial and with a bonus check to boot.

There would be a hundred Virginia farm boys all over that Southern town within weeks, investigating potential federal charges. Does that not sound familiar?

Here in Ward County? Nothing, despite a similar story.

Are we less interested in justice here? Is the North Dakota “good ol’ boys network” more influential here than in the the South?

Or are our leaders simply more timid?

When it is election time, Native American support is important to candidates.

Are actual Native American lives less important?

Once again, Minot Daily News asks our delegation to simply examine the facts on hand, review the same materials made available to this newspaper, and refuse to permit Ward County to sweep this under the rug.

Or will it take another minority death for which no one is held accountable? Five more? Ten?

This is a shame that the good people of Ward County do not deserve to have to bear just because of a colossal failure of “leadership.”