Despite having surveillance video, police officials are apparently in no rush to fire the two Minneapolis cops who decorated their precinct’s Christmas tree with racially insulting items.
Minneapolis police internal affairs is reviewing the surveillance footage of the Fourth Precinct headquarters lobby where the tree is located, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported on Thursday.
Social media posts of the offensive tree surfaced Nov. 30 and prompted a call from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey for the immediate firing of the two officers. Nearly one week later, police chief Medaria Arradondo, who is Black, demoted the precinct’s commander, but the officers are still collecting paychecks and assigned to serve a predominantly African-American community they disrespect.
“We can’t comment on the video, it’s with internal affairs,” said Assistant Police Chief Michael Kjos, adding that the department would reserve comment until after the investigation is complete.
The newspaper identified the cops as Mark Bohnsack and Brandy Steberg, both 21-year veterans, based on several sources.
Instead of traditional decorations like candy canes and reindeers, Bohnsack and Steberg allegedly placed items that included a Newports cigarette pack, can of Steel Reserve malt liquor and a cup from Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen on the precinct’s Christmas tree.
While Bohnsack and Steberg each have had several commendations, they also had at least three separate fatal police shootings that did not result in indictments and numerous complaints on their records.
Bohnsack had at least 12 complaints since 2013—one of them was ongoing as of Tuesday. Steberg went unpunished in two complaints. He was also named as a defendant in three federal court cases involving alleged use of excessive force. None of those incidents ended in any disciplinary action.
The Fourth Precinct is plagued by poor relations with the Black community it serves. Arradondo has been struggling to build trust with the community after a series of high-profile police-involved shootings, including Jamar Clark in 2015 and Thurman Blevins in June 2018.
On Friday, the mayor said the Christmas tree was a “racist display.” But the mayor’s spokesman stepped on the brakes, noting that there’s a legal process required before dismissing the officers.
Still, revelations that surveillance video has been available all this time adds to the frustration of many residents. An online petition to fire the two officers reached more than 1,600 signatures by Wednesday.