Community decorates Christmas tree outside 4th Precinct following alleged racist actions by officers

December 07, 2018 10:12 PM

Activists and many who live in North Minneapolis are hoping to send a message with a Christmas tree.

It was a week ago that two police officers were put on leave following allegations they put racist decorations on the 4th Precinct tree. Days later, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS learned Assistant Chief Mike Kjos would be taking over the precinct, replacing Aaron Biard.


Just steps away from the entrance to the Minneapolis Police Department's 4 Precinct, there's now a Christmas tree, put up by members of the community on Friday night.

"To really give a proper representation of Christmas for the north side," said Chauntyll Allen with Black Lives Matter Twin Cities. 

"We are out here to say that as a community, we do not tolerate racism," said Nekima Levy-Armstrong, Racial Justice Network co-founder. 

Each holiday season, an officer is assigned to decorate the tree inside the 4th Precinct. But this year, in what was allegedly a prank, ornaments included a Popeye's chicken cup, beer cans, junk food bags, cigarettes and yellow tape.

"The yellow tape, that was just too much for me, I just didn't appreciate that at all," Allen said. 

"Appalled, disgusted, hurt because that is not anything that I would certainly condone," said Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.

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On Friday night, Arradondo showed up to the 4th Precinct to greet people as they put up the tree and confirmed two officers are still on leave. 

"I will not defend the indefensible," Arradondo said. 

Community activists stress that's not enough. In fact, they want a complete overhaul of the 4th Precinct. This includes adding a north side advisory board, racial bias training and the two officers being fired.

"We really need to mend some relationships, we need to mend some broken things that have happened in our community," Allen said. 

Arradondo insists what happened isn't OK.

"What I was most concerned about is the men and women who have been out here working in our beloved north side, it set us back," Arradondo said. 

Both sides agree Friday night was about taking steps to repair those wounds and have a conversation. 

"I think we can work together and really navigate some positive changes, this is just the start," Allen said.

"This is more in line to our values at the Minneapolis Police Department," Arradondo said. 

There is still an active investigation underway to determine if those officers will face any further punishment, including being fired. Arradondo says he plans to sit down with members of the community soon to have another conversation on how to move forward.

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Brett Hoffland

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