Over at the StarTribune, columnist John Tevlin has a piece reflecting on what has and hasn't changed in the year of protests since Michael Brown's killing. He interviews Minneapolis NAACP president Nekmia Levy-Pounds, who he finds, understandably, "emotionally exhausted."
Then he interviews Minneapolis Police Officers Federation President Bob Kroll. When Tevlin asks if Kroll thinks that protests have had any positive impact, Kroll unsurprisingly responds, "Not at all...It's been destructive. I don't think an increase in attention or more videos are going to do anything."
But then he takes it one step further. Seemingly unprompted, Krolls says, "If black lives matter, where are they when a black person kills a black person? Where is the outrage?"
It's hard to imagine a more cliche White response. You can just imagine Kroll in the supermarket, walking down the aisle looking for just the right can of generic racism.
Let's see--Cream of Personal Responsibility, Condensed Welfare Dependence, Chopped Why Was He Running....AH! Here we are! Pickled Black-on-Black crime! This will be perfect!
The factually-ignorant, logically-falacious, racist non-sequiter of responding to calls for an end to disproportionate state violence against Black people with queries of "but what about Black-on-Black crime?" has been so thoroughly demolished all over the internet that I'm not going to spend any more time on it here. But if you need a little guidance, I'll get you started.
Beyond this argument making no sense, it's also just patently wrong in Minneapolis and demonstrates a huge disconnect with the communities Kroll serves. Anytime there is violent crime in Black communities in Minneapolis, Black leaders from organizations like MAD DADS, the Peace Foundation (whose leaders gave rise to NAZ), and countless churches hold vigils and loudly voice their outrage. I guess Lt. Kroll hasn't been listening.
Of course we should not be surprised by this worldview from Lt. Kroll. A quick Google search reveals that the list of concerning incidents involving President Kroll include:
allegations that he called U.S. Congressperson Keith Ellison, who is Black and Muslim, a "terrorist."
allegations that he and other police union members intimidated a City Council Member they disagreed with.
allegations in a federal complaint (pdf) that he "made discriminatory comments against a homosexual aide to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak."
allegations that he is a member of a racist police club called City Heat
And that's just a quick Google search.
To have someone who is this culturally incompetent representing policing in Minneapolis is unacceptable. And this is the man who is negotiating with Chief Harteau and company in the contract talks that are underway now that will determine the course of policing for the coming years.
This is why we need not just incremental change, but radical reform of policing in Minneapolis. Without that change, we can expect more of the same. Right now, the police force does not reflect the residents it serves. Just check out the list of elected officers for the federation to see what passes for diversity there. And 94% of Minneapolis officers don't live in Minneapolis. As long as the force is made up almost entirely of culturally incompetent White people who live in the suburbs, we can continue to expect disproportionate violence against people of color, and gems of community relations like #pointergate.
Chief Harteau and Mayor Hodges have their work cut out for them. I hope they come to the table with sufficient outrage.