After outcry from the community, two police officers in Minneapolis, MN have been placed on leave, due to their choice of decorations for a Christmas Tree.
The display included Popeye's Chicken, cigarette boxes, malt liquor and Takis snacks.
While the decorations might seem strange or innocuous to some, the specific choices have a history of negative association with urban minority populations. It was characterized as "a 'wink wink' to racist stereotypes."
Watch news coverage of the incident here.
Mayor Frey Says Officer Who Put Up 'Racist' Christmas Decorations Will Be Fired www.youtube.com
The scene sparked outrage among some people.
@northxnorthside @jeremiah4north @CunninghamMPLS @Jacob_Frey This is an example of micro aggression. Sadly the offi… https://t.co/lV77R8QsOo— Nada Neoliberal (@Nada Neoliberal)1543616311.0
@northxnorthside @jeremiah4north @CunninghamMPLS @Jacob_Frey It's funny how white people never see how anything is… https://t.co/9U3bfMAwZB— Toyia (@Toyia)1543610961.0
@northxnorthside @jeremiah4north @CunninghamMPLS @Jacob_Frey It would appear people don't get the dog whistle. I a… https://t.co/EPTa3HmTCg— mindy upshaw (@mindy upshaw)1543792496.0
This display took place in Minneapolis' 4th precinct, where only a few years ago, police shot Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man. The city has been working to rebuild trust between the police and the community since.
There were those who couldn't understand why this display was racist.
@northxnorthside @jeremiah4north @CunninghamMPLS @Jacob_Frey I don't understand either. It just looks like they too… https://t.co/b461Ul2YkK— Snerdguy (@Snerdguy)1543785529.0
@northxnorthside @jeremiah4north @CunninghamMPLS @Jacob_Frey What am I supposed to see here?— Andre (@Andre)1543779869.0
@northxnorthside @jeremiah4north @CunninghamMPLS @Jacob_Frey Where’s the racism? Did I miss it? This is getting tot… https://t.co/1oDxAi6M1x— Juanita (@Juanita)1543726835.0
But some people tried to explain it to them.
@Fetrovsky @northxnorthside @jeremiah4north @CunninghamMPLS @Jacob_Frey not surprising. Many do not. that's the b… https://t.co/N9zYYwKMst— Nate Velar (@Nate Velar)1543610800.0
@Fetrovsky @northxnorthside @jeremiah4north @CunninghamMPLS @Jacob_Frey Having privilege will do that to you.— Vishnu (@Vishnu)1543607402.0
@Fetrovsky @northxnorthside @jeremiah4north @CunninghamMPLS @Jacob_Frey Daniel - how can I best explain it? The rat… https://t.co/5vHwyMs6bn— Peter Curtin (@Peter Curtin)1543777410.0
City Hall came out quickly in condemnation of the tree, with Mayor Jacob Frey saying:
"Racism and intolerance is absolutely unacceptable and that should especially be the case among our city employees."
Frey initially called for the officers to be fired immediately, but couldn't, as there is a more involved legal process to remove the officers.
Jeremiah Ellison, a recently elected city council member, spoke on the issue after being notified.
"It's disappointing, but also I think deeply disturbing to wake up to something like that. Not just for myself, but for my neighbors."
He responded on Twitter when he was first notified.
@northxnorthside @CunninghamMPLS @Jacob_Frey Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’m working on addressing… https://t.co/K1oa1kiCUu— Jeremiah Ellison (@Jeremiah Ellison)1543597018.0
Friday evening, community activists protested outside of the precinct headquarters.
Raeisha Williams, former City Council candidate, said:
"We are tired of being the city's punching bag. Here we've had our holiday taken away from us. Destroyed. Manipulated. By hate, bigotry and racism."
Speakers condemn Xmas display, say they are “tired of being the city’s punching bag.” https://t.co/NsKEtspeE8— Liz Sawyer (@Liz Sawyer)1543618852.0
While the officers are being investigated, they are suspended with pay.
If they are fired, they can appeal, with the police union arbitrating.