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Mayor Frey: Minneapolis police officer will be fired over racist Christmas tree decorations

November 30, 2018

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey says a police officer will be fired for decorating a Christmas tree in the North Side precinct with what he called a racist display.

A photo circulating on Twitter showed the tree decorated with a pack of Newport cigarettes, a bag of Takis, a can of Steel Reserve, police tape and a paper cup from Popeyes Louisana Chicken.

This behavior is racist, despicable, and is well beneath the standards of any person who serves the city of Minneapolis, said Frey in a statement. 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.

The viral photo of the tree comes at a time when Minneapolis is working to repair community perception of the police particularly in the Fourth Precinct, where activists recently mourned the third anniversary of an officer fatally shooting Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man.

The City Councils broader concerns about the Minneapolis Police Department are also affecting its budget. As Frey sent out his statement Friday, the council voted to reduce the mayors proposed police budget for 2019 by $1.1 million.

Council Member Phillipe Cunningham wrote on Facebook Friday he talked to Fourth Precinct Inspector Aaron Biard, who said the ornaments have been taken down and the officer has been both disciplined and coached.

Every year an officer is assigned to decorate the tree, wrote Cunningham. As a prank, another officer hung some inappropriate ornaments after it was decorated. Inspector Biard immediately took action the day the tree went up.

The department will also schedule sensitivity training, said Cunningham.

Since taking office this year, Frey has identified repairing community-police relations in the aftermath of several controversial officer-involved shootings as one of his top priorities.

Andy Mannix 612-673-4036

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