Minneapolis Officials Don’t Care Whether Their Police Have Ties To White Power

Minneapolis Officials Don't Care Whether Their Police Have Ties To White Power
Slain Dallas cop was a known white supremacist.

AFRICANGLOBE – The Minneapolis police department again captured headlines over the weekend after four officers walked out of a Minnesota Lynx women’s basketball game because players wore warmup jerseys with the words “Black Lives Matter” and the names of two African Americans, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, who were recently shot to death by police. The officers, who were off duty and assisting with private security, pulled the stunt despite the fact that the shirts also included the image of the Dallas police shield in tribute to the five members of the department who were recently killed by a sniper.

A key component of the cop protest has been completely overlooked in coverage of the outrage: The head of the Minneapolis Police Officer’s Federation who promptly commended the walkout, Bob Kroll, has been accused multiple times of overt sympathies for white supremacy, with five African-American police officers accusing him in a 2007 lawsuit of wearing a “white power” badge and having a “history of discriminatory attitudes and conduct.” Reports indicate that Kroll is part of a white power-linked motorcycle club called City Heat, which was even denounced by the Anti-Defamation League—known for collaborating with police departments across the country—because its members “have openly displayed white supremacist symbols.” Kroll’s work history is pockmarked with accusations of racist violence, including numerous lawsuits.

Despite this troubling track record, Kroll quickly became a source for local and national outlets covering the police walkout, with most reporting failing to fully detail the accusations against him. Kroll is quoted in numerous outlets stating, “I commend them for [the walkout]” and even insulting the team: “They only have four officers working the event because the Lynx have such a pathetic draw.”

According to Nekima Levy-Pounds, civil rights attorney and president of the Minneapolis NAACP, “Many of our more widely read newspapers and news networks often go to Bob Kroll for quotes as though he is a legitimate source to speak about race relations. Rarely do they ask him questions about his alleged ties to white supremacist groups and history of excessive force against African Americans. They empower him when they give him a platform.”

More disturbingly, city officials have publicly shown little interest in investigating whether its officers have ties to white power. Asked about Kroll’s ties to City Heat, John A. Elder of the public information office of the Minneapolis Police Department told said, “We don’t make people register their hobbies.”

When pressed on whether overt ties to white supremacy should disqualify an officer from wearing a badge, Elder responded: “That’s far too wide of a question for me to answer.”

While Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges recently denounced Kroll’s “jackass remarks,” she did not address his racist history. David Prestwood, the mayor’s communications director, told said “we’re not going to comment” on the accusations against Kroll or whether the mayor’s office is conducting an investigation. When we pointed out that Hodges has already released public comment about Kroll, Prestwood stated he is “not authorized” to say anything further and suggested contacting the police department.

In response to public outrage and sustained protest over the police killing of unarmed 24-year-old Jamar Clark on Nov. 15, 2015, Kroll smeared Black Lives Matter as “terrorists” in early June. In February, St. Paul police officer Jeff Rothecker was forced to resign after he was caught encouraging drivers to run over Black Lives Matter protesters slated to gather for a Martin Luther King Day mobilization.

City Heat maintains active chapters in the Twin Cities, according to its website. The motorcycle club did not respond to a request for comment.

The inaction of Minneapolis officials dovetails with a troubling tolerance of overt police incitement against Black anti-racism protesters nationwide. This new normal is particularly alarming given that, according to a 2006 FBI report, white supremacist organizations have sought for decades to infiltrate police departments across the country.

A white police detective based in Detroit was recently demoted, though not fired, for calling the Black Lives Matter movement “terrorists.” The officer, Nate Weekley, wrote on Facebook: “The only racists here are the piece of sh*t Black Lives Matter terrorists and their supporters.” Nate Weekley’s brother, Joseph Weekley, is a police officer who killed a seven-year-old Black child during a raid on a residence in 2010.

The Fort Worth Police Officers Association, which represents over 1,500 officers and officials, declared on Facebook over the weekend that Black Lives Matter is “an organization that chooses to MURDER American law enforcement officers.” The message was later deleted, but not before it was shared and reposted by social media users.

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen recently called Black Lives Matter a “radical hate group.”

Meanwhile, police departments across the country are facing down civil rights protesters with military-grade weaponry. In Baton Rouge, where Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police while pinned to the ground, racial justice protests have been met with police bearing assault rifles, noise weapons called LRADs, tear gas and an armored personnel carrier.

Despite this blowback, protests continue to build across the country and the world. On Wednesday morning, reports emerged that protesters had blocked a Minneapolis-area highway in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

“There has been a heightened level of derogatory rhetoric geared towards Black Lives Matter protesters and demonstrators,” said Levy-Pounds. “We’ve seen many incidents in the press where Black Lives Matter has been referred to as a terrorist organization.”

“Police are the ones who are heavily armed with both lethal and non-lethal weapons at their disposal and access to military-grade weapons and surveillance equipment,” Levy-Pounds continued. “All those tools are used to oppress some of the most marginalized groups in this country. Given that officers have been allowed to kill with impunity, we must ask question, who are the dangerous ones?”

 

By: Sarah Lazare

 

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