Mauri and Mike Friestleben’s marriage has helped each other embrace different perspectives on policing and racism.
When analyzing police shootings, Mauri trusts her husband’s perspective as a former police officer.
“I’ve never been able to watch any of them,” Friestleben said. “He’ll tell me honestly that, ‘It might be hard to watch that one. But as a police officer, I don’t have a problem with that shooting.'”
But when it came to George Floyd’s death, the retired police lieutenant knew it was wrong. Mauri said that her husband reacted to the video by saying, “I think I just watched a murder.”
Meanwhile, marrying Mauri, who is of mixed race herself with a White mother and Black father, has also opened his eyes to a different perspective.
“The optics are no different than slave optics 200 years ago, with hangings and burnings and things like that,” said her husband. “It’s just different technology, different weapons.”
Mike met his wife after responding to an active gunman near the school she worked at. He warned her to lockdown the school, and went there himself to make sure everyone was safe. When the two met there was instant chemistry.
They married a year later, and are hopeful that their love for one another is a sign that there is hope for the nation as a whole to move forward.
“Being married to Mike during these difficult times makes me believe that there is hope and there can be hope. I’m not hopeless,” Mauri said.
Mike also acknowledged the important change his wife has made in him.
“It’s opened up my eyes to things that even I didn’t see. It’s just opened up my eyes a little wider,” he said. “It’s been helpful.”
Immediately following Derek Chauvin’s conviction, the Department of Justice launched an investigation into the city’s policing practices, which is something that the couple both agree with.
“Can it be fixed? Absolutely, but you got to start changing the way you police,” he said. “We all swore, we swore, we swore to protect other people before ourselves. You have to really get back to original policing like when you were on the foot beat.”
When Mike was on the force, he developed strong ties with members of the community and made sure to have positive interactions, including receiving help from citizens in solving crimes.
“I think to myself, there have to be more Mikes around, and if there’s more Mikes around, then we can do this,” Mauri said.