Community leaders voice support for Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo
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More than a dozen black community leaders gathered outside of Minneapolis City Hall on Thursday to support Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.
“We are here to support him. We are here to let people know that his community is behind him and we believe in him,” said Pastor Brian Herron, of Zion Baptist Church. “We are calling for systemic change, we are calling for transformational change […] we believe that Rondo Arradondo, Chief Rondo, can do that.”
Herron voiced support for Chief Arradondo’s plan to withdraw from negotiations with the Minneapolis Police Officers’ Federation.
“I love that he’s looking at the contract because it's in the contract that we need to make major changes,” he said.
Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Arradondo is an example of the kind of change that needs to happen in police departments.
"We believe in his leadership," Hussein said. "We believe that other cities across this country can follow suit by recognizing that that type of leadership is how we move forward and the days of Bob Kroll and that type of leadership are over.”
They are calling for Lt. Bob Kroll to resign as president of the union.
“We are standing here to let Chief Arradondo know that he is not alone, that we want him to continue to take bold steps to clean up the trash in the Minneapolis Police Department,” said Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights attorney.
She said it is incumbent upon the officers to take action as well.
“We’re saying if you're serious about shifting the paradigm, protecting your jobs and changing the situation then you need to un-elect Bob Kroll and call for new leadership with integrity,” Levy Armstrong said. “The people of this city are tired of feeling terrorized by the Minneapolis Police Federation.”
On Thursday, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS obtained a letter written by 14 officers, who denounced the actions of former officer Derek Chauvin. The letter read, in part: “Derek Chauvin failed as a human and stripped George Floyd of his dignity and life. This is not who we are.”
The officers wrote that they know Chief Arradondo needs their support and “…we stand ready to listen and embrace the calls for change, reform and rebuilding.”
Levy Armstrong told reporters, “We want a police department that serves the whole community, that is attentive to the needs of the African American community and that works to heal and not hurt our community.”
She wants to see police officers with a history of using excessive force removed from the department.
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“And we want the department to make a commitment not to hire cops who have engaged in excessive force or have killed people in other jurisdictions,” said Levy Armstrong.
She, and others, want a civilian review council reinstated with subpoena power.
“That would be a cross-section of people here right now so that way we can have oversight in the midst of this, outside of the police policing themselves,” said the Rev. Jerry McAfee, of New Salem Baptist Church.
Several speakers also criticized the city council majority, which announced their intent on Sunday to defund the police.
"Many of these City Council members have had years to address police misconduct and corruption but instead of addressing the corruption, what they've been doing is rubber-stamping it by settling millions of dollars in excessive force lawsuits," Levy Armstrong said. "It is unacceptable for this City Council to now pretend that they care about justice, to grab headlines and grab attention instead of doing the heavy lifting of reforming the police departments."
“We demand you to stop your political gaslighting to sit down and learn about police accountability and use your power accordingly," she added.
Herron said they and the community need to be included in conversations about how to reform policing in Minneapolis.
“If we work collectively together we can make the kind of changes that transform this department,” he said. “We don’t need an occupational force in our community — we need an extension of community to root out crime. Don’t talk to me about dismantling a department when we are dealing with difficulties in our community and crime issues.
“What I want to hear is how we're going to work together to solve this problem so that our children and our children’s children won’t have to witness what we witnessed."
President of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, Leslie Redmond, shared her support of Chief Arradondo as well.
“If there is any police chief who can help transform and completely reconstruct what we look at policing today, it is Chief Arradondo,” said Redmond. “We recognize that this institution was built on white supremacy and has continued to perpetuate white supremacy for far too long. The two can exist at the same time, we can say that we need community policing and say we're going to work with the Minneapolis Police Department.”
Council President Lisa Bender responded on Thursday, sharing this statement:
"On Sunday, nine members of the City Council accepted an invitation to join Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block to commit to a process to reimagine public safety in our community. Central to our announcement was a commitment to a community engagement process to bring change. We look forward to hearing from every voice in the community, including those who have previously been at the table and those who are new to the conversation, particularly centering the voices of those most affected by community violence and police violence."