Bob Kroll, President of the Minneapolis Police Union & The Will of the People

For those of you who want a picture of what the Minneapolis Police Department is like, there is no more telling figure than the head of the Minneapolis police union, Bob Kroll.

In 2007, Kroll was cited in a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Minneapolis police department by five black officers, including the current police chief Medaria Arradondo.

Kroll appeared at a Trump rally last fall at the Target Center in Minneapolis, and thanked President Trump for ending President Barrack Obama’s “oppression of police” and for freeing cops to “put the handcuffs on criminals instead of us.”

In a letter to Minneapolis police officers this week, Kroll told his fellow officers that they were being made “scapegoats” for the violence in the city, and he accused Mayor Jacob Frey, Gov. Tim Walz and other leaders for refusing “to acknowledge the work of the MPD” and saying they “continually shift blame to it….It is despicable behavior. How our command staff can tolerate it and live with themselves I do not know.”

Former police chief and a frequent critic of Kroll, Janee Harteau, responded by calling for him to reside from his post. “A disgrace to the badge! This is the battle that myself and others have been fighting against. Bob Kroll turn in your badge!”

In Minneapolis, 63% of the population is white, but though only 18.6% of the population is black, blacks make up 63% of those shot and killed by police here between 2000 and 2018. The New York Times has reported that the Minneapolis police used force seven times more against black citizens than white citizens.

Only 8% of the Minneapolis police force live in Minneapolis.

Politically, Minneapolis is a Democratic political stronghold. My area is the neighborhood where George Floyd was murdered and where the demonstrations at the third precinct occurred. We have consecutively elected two black Muslim Americans to the House of Representatives, current attorney general Keith Ellison, who will now oversee the Floyd case, and current representative Ilhan Omar. Both are Democrats.

What is clear to so many is that the current systems and even well-intentioned mayors and police chiefs have failed to change the culture of the police department. Kroll is whom the Minneapolis police department have chosen to be their representative. If the city itself were to vote on the head of the police union, there is no way Kroll would be chosen.

Why is it that we have a police department whose racial profiling and abuses are well documented, who do not live in our city or our neighborhoods, and whose political and racial views are so at odds with the populace here? And how do we change this, if our votes for mayor and the city council have not?

This is why people are marching in Minneapolis. We are protesting, yes, the tragic and senseless murder of George Floyd, but we are protesting a history of a police department which has abused its citizenry and is not at all representative of the voters in this city.

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