Tree decorations at 4th precinct MPD headquarters are called racist

Two officers now on leave in connection with the tree display

Adam Carter
November 30, 2018 - 11:57 am

Courtesy of Chauntyll Allen

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Two Minneapolis police officers are on administrative leave while an internal investigation looks into the decorating of a Christmas tree at the Fourth Precinct headquarters with ornaments that Mayor Jacob Frey called racist.

The mayor wanted the person responsible for the tree fired by the end of Friday, but a spokesman later said terminating a police officer takes more time.

An image of the tree was posted on Twitter. Along with ornaments and tinsel, the tree had a Popeye's Chicken glass, a pack of Newport cigarettes, cans of malt liquor, and a bag of Takis chips.

Images of the tree were shared on Facebook by Minneapolis City Council member Phillipe Cunningham, who represents part of the 4th precinct.

Here a statement from MPD chief Medaria Arradondo:

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.

The fourth precinct headquarters was the site of a 17-day encampment in 2015 in reaction to the officer-involved shooting death of Jamar Clark.

Cunningham says he spoke with 4th Precinct Commander Aaron Biard and he provided an update.

The tree was taken down before noon on Friday. Here's where it was located:

missing Christmas tree
Entercom

The fourth precinct serves Minneapolis predominantly black North Side.

"This behavior is racist, despicable, and well beneath the standards of any person who serves the city of Minneapolis," said Mayor Frey, who initially said the person responsible would be fired by the end of the day Friday. "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."