Two Minneapolis cops, in a precinct plagued by poor relations with the Black community it serves, felt comfortable displaying their racist attitude through their choice of Christmas tree decorations at the Fourth Precinct.
Officials placed the officers on paid leave Friday for what Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called a “racist display,” the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
Instead of traditional items like candy canes and reindeers, the precinct’s tree included a Newport cigarette pack, a can of Steel Reserve malt liquor, police tape, a bag of Takis and a cup from Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.
“It’s a modern-day version of a dog whistle, tainted with racism, specifically against the African-American community,” said civil rights leader Ron Edwards.
The Fourth Precinct was the epicenter of widespread protests that began in 2015 with the police shooting of Jamar Clark, an unarmed Black man killed by two white officers. The Hennepin County Attorney chose not to charge the officers, saying the shooting was justified. However, eyewitnesses told accounts that contradicted the police version of the incident.
More recently, protesters took to the streets in June after the police gunned down Thurman Blevins. Demonstrators held a protest near the precinct to demand answers about why officers killed the fleeing suspect. Minneapolis’ Black police chief, Medaria Arradondo, and the mayor met with the demonstrators and pledged transparency in the investigation. Ultimately, the cops were cleared of wrongdoing in Blevins’ death.
At first, Frey called for the firing of the officers involved in the Christmas tree decorating incident. But the mayor’s spokesman stepped on the brakes, noting that there’s a legal process required before dismissing the officers.
“Man, every way I could put it would understate it. It’s disappointing, but also I think deeply disturbing to wake up to something like that. Not just for myself, but for my neighbors,” said City Council member Jeremiah Ellison, son of Minnesota Attorney General-elect Keith Ellison.