Mayor Frey calls Minneapolis police precinct Christmas tree display 'racist, despicable'

Mayor Frey calls Minneapolis police precinct Christmas tree display 'racist, despicable' Photo: Twitter image used by permission

November 30, 2018 02:54 PM

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said the officer responsible for reportedly decorating a Christmas tree in the Minneapolis Police Department's 4th Precinct with what have been described as racially offensive ornaments will be terminated.

A Facebook post from Minneapolis City Council Member Phillipe Cunningham said he had spoken to 4th Precinct Inspector Aaron Biard, who said every year an officer is assigned to decorate the tree. And, as a prank, another officer "hung some inappropriate ornaments after it was decorated."

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The mayor's office Friday morning also confirmed the individual in question was an officer. A photo of the tree on social media showed it decorated with a Popeye's Chicken cup, beer cans, junk food bags and other items.

"Inspector Biard immediately took action the day the tree went up," Cunningham's post read.

"The inappropriate decorations were taken down. The officer was both disciplined and coached. There will be cultural sensitivity training and a community outreach event planned."

However, in his statement, Frey said he will pursue more severe punishment.

"This behavior is racist, despicable, and is well beneath the standards of any person who serves the city of Minneapolis," his statement read.

"The offending party will be fired before the day is over. Shifting the culture of the police department requires swift and decisive action. Termination is necessary – both to discipline the officer and to send a clear message: Chief Arradondo and I will not tolerate conduct that departs from our values."  

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo issued a statement Friday afternoon, saying he was appalled by the incident. He said the matter is being investigated.

"It was reported to me recently that a racially insensitive display that was put up in the 4th precinct lobby. As soon as it was realized what the display was, it was removed," the statement read.

"As was stated by many members of the community during the public hearing in front of the Public Safety Committee on Thursday, the culture of the Minneapolis Police Department has undergone positive change, however as this recent incident shows we still have much work ahead. Every day I work to bridge the divide between the police department and the community, as do so many others in our department. We will not stop our efforts of treating all those that we serve with fairness, dignity and respect.  That manner of treatment is non-negotiable.  

"I am ashamed and appalled by the behavior of those who would feel comfortable to act in such a manner that goes against our core department values of Trust, Accountability and Professional Service. I have initiated a full investigation and will make information public when possible in accordance with Minnesota State Statute."
 

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Frank Rajkowski

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