Black Lives Matter activist Chauntyll Allen noticed Friday that the Minneapolis Police Department’s fourth precinct had put up a seemingly festive-looking Christmas tree.
Then she looked a little closer at the ornaments hanging from said tree.
In addition to red and green baubles, there were a few crumpled beer cans, a strip of police tape, what looks like a carton of cigarettes, and some empty bags of Funyuns and Takis nestled in the branches. There it was, the precinct’s holly jolly tribute to the neighborhood: mostly garbage and snacks stereotypically enjoyed by black and Hispanic people.
“…Just wondering what are the ornaments in the Southwest precinct?” Allen said in a Facebook post that has since been made private to avoid backlash. “This racism is so blatant and I bet no one will be reprimanded for this.”
As it turns out, someone has been reprimanded for this. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey released a statement that same day addressing “reports of a racist display in a Minneapolis Police precinct.”
“This behavior is racist, despicable, and is well beneath the standards of any person who serves the city of Minneapolis,” he said. The statement promised the “offending party” would be fired before the day was over.
“Shifting the culture of the police department requires swift and decisive action,” Frey said. “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 later sent out a statement saying the tree had been removed. The culture of the Minneapolis Police Department, he said, has undergone a "positive change." However, the incident at Precinct 4 has shown they "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," he said. "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."
Arradondo went on to say that a full investigation into the incident had been initiated, and information would be made public as soon as possible.