Stunning Petulance from Minneapolis Police Officers

Lynx forward Maya Moore - Minneapolis PoliceOn Monday night, four off-duty Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers were moonlighting as security personnel for the Lynx WNBA game at Target Center.

The officers wore their Minneapolis Police Department uniforms while working the security job (as permitted by the department).

And in an act of stunning petulance, all four walked off the security job because Lynx players wore t-shirts like the one Lynx forward Maya Moore is wearing in the photo on the left.

On the back of these shirts are the names of Philando Castile, killed by police in Minnesota last week, and Alton Sterling, killed by police in Louisiana. And beneath the names is a Dallas Police department emblem — remembering the five officers killed by a sniper in Texas.

Not Just Shirts

The MPD officers were reportedly also offended by a pre-game news conference Lynx players held. It included seemingly universal comments such as Rebekkah Brunson saying the shirts were meant to “honor and mourn the loss of precious American citizens and to plead change for all of us.” And Maya Moore saying, “We are highlighting a longtime problem of racial profiling.”

The Minneapolis police officers should not have been surprised. Last Saturday, the Lynx wore the exact same shirts and made similar statements before a game against the Dallas Wings. Several of the Wings teammates expressed gratitude for the show of support. In that instance, Moore declared, “If we take this time to see that this is a human issue and speak out together, we can greatly decrease fear and create change… Tonight we will be wearing shirts to honor and mourn the losses of precious American citizens and to plead for change in all of us.”

The Police Union Joins In

“We don’t support law enforcement murdering civilians and we don’t support civilians murdering law enforcement.” —Lynx player Simeone Augustus

Commenting on the officers who walked out, MPD union head Lt Bob Kroll said, “I commend them for it” and “if [the players] are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there.” Then, in an act even more petulant than the walk-off, Kroll said, “They only have four officers working the event because the Lynx have such a pathetic draw.”

The Lynx have won three of the last five WNBA championships, and average about 8,000 fans per game. That’s roughly half the size of a typical NBA crowd, and far larger than a rock concert at nearby venue First Avenue. (A rather well-known rock club, where Prince filmed scenes for Purple Rain.)

Minneapolis Police Have a History

You may recall the story from 2014, when Minneapolis Police Department union members duped a local TV station into claiming Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges was flashing a “gang symbol.” The slander was almost certainly a response to Hodges’s attempts at reforming the department.

A Longtime Problem

And such attempts are nothing new. During most of the 1980s, Anthony Bouza was head of the MPD and deeply unpopular with the force because of his reform measures. Later, Bouza described those reforms in Police Unbound: Corruption, Abuse, and Heroism By The Boys In Blue. Bouza wrote that “temptations to abuse are everywhere, and practically irresistible.” He found some officers so dirty and so unfireable, he would pay them to sit at an empty desk rather than poison new recruits with their attitudes. Bouza said officers refer to such attitudes as thinking of themselves as “meat eaters”: tough guys; ones who don’t ever back down from a confrontation.

MPD: To Protect and Serve… Themselves

Most hated of Bouza’s reforms was a reduction in two-person shifts. Officers claimed this reduction would make them unsafe, and pointed to an inevitable officer death as proof. (Police work is dangerous, although not so dangerous as fishing, farming, logging, driving, and many other occupations.) The real cause for officers’ hatred of this policy was the very reason Bouza initiated it. A two-officer crew has virtually unlimited power. In rare cases where an officer’s actions are investigated by prosecutors, witness statements from another officer will always be given more weight than testimony from suspects or bystanders.

Bouza took on the MPD job after previous experience as police commander in The Bronx. But that didn’t seem to matter to the “meat eaters” at the MPD.

Shame on the Minneapolis Police

In any case, shame on the petulant MPD officers who walked off their jobs in a huff because of the principled statements made by Minnesota Lynx athletes. But don’t expect the MPD to make desperately needed changes anytime soon.

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About James Fillmore

I am a spy for MI-6 who recklessly sleeps with innumerable gorgeous partners, drinks like a madman, ruins expensive company equipment, and I get away with all of this because I save the world on a consistent basis. As my cover, I am a poor person living in Minnesota.

10 thoughts on “Stunning Petulance from Minneapolis Police Officers

  1. Time has come for a little hardball. Let’s accuse these officers of disloyalty to the community and demand their resignations. If this is their reaction to this relatively mild and indirect criticism, there follows that these officers are unwilling to listen and negotiate. Danger to the community.

    Is there a police union leader somewhere who is not a bloody redneck? Anywhere?

    • Well, the cops at the game were doing this as a second job, so of course they’re free to quit any time they like and still be police officers. As wil points out, that’s kinda irresponsible of them, but it is their right.

      Personally, although I know nothing about the challenges of running a large police department, I’d be fine if we gave every cop on the force a generous early retirement package. Replace them with people who have security guard experience instead (that job pays crap, I’m sure they’d love a better salary.) Security guards are WAY more diverse than cops. Give ’em a small arsenal of non-lethal weapons (mace, tasers, etc) and let ’em at it. How much worse could it be?

      (Or, hell, bar bouncers. Nobody wants a fight less than a good bar bouncer, because drunk people can be crazy strong. They’re experts at talking aggressive people down.)

      Funny you mention cop leaders and rednecks. I’ve met some rural cops who were quite decent people. One was a former sheriff of Harney County, OR (where the Bundy idiots took over government property in January.) This was 20 years ago, but the guy told me he forbade officers from carrying guns — “it just exacerbates the situation,” he said. Naturally they had guns and SWAT gear and all that back at the station if they needed it.

      But that’s the thing. He had to have a good reputation in the county (pop. 7000 or so) to keep being re-elected sheriff. He needed to show respect to the people he served, not demand it. I’ll bet that’s true of many rural cop leaders. What we do about city cops (besides my, no doubt, brilliant suggestions here) — I have no idea. But it’s gotta be something.

      Now that everyone has a video camera in their pocket, it’s been confirming what our African-American friends have been trying to tell us for decades about police abuse.

      • Note that I was speaking specifically of police union leaders. All the ones I’ve known of here in Toronto are thugs, plain and simple, whose only real purpose is to vilify anyone with even the mildest criticism of the cops.

        I’m not sure about the wisdom of electing cop leaders, despite some obvious attractions – theoretically they are responsible to the people, but there are pitfalls a-many.

        Can’t say I have any answers. The same bad things happen, in milder forms, in nations with a more egalitarian and racially homogenous history. At least now the problems are going to be harder to ignore, or to blame on the guy that got shot 76 times from 9 different cop guns.

        • Hell, I wish we had the same problems with cops as civilized countries.

          Like Canada, The Country We So Could Have Conquered If We Really Wanted To, Except We Didn’t, Because When We Tried They Kicked Our Ass, But We Weren’t Really Trying That Hard Then Because We Already Knew We Were More Totally Fabuulous Than You, And Now We Got Drones And Guns & Stuff And We Could So Kick Yer Butts Except We Don’t Want To be-cuz Amurricah=awesome In Every Way

          • I’m pleased you seem to like our country, but we’ve been having some police shootings here in Toronto too. Recently, an officer was convicted in one shooting – guy was half (or more) mad, did not have a gun and was at least 20 feet from the officer. Dude died, with video evidence; cop convicted of attempted murder. Very strange, I know, but at least common sense (more or less) prevailed for once.

            I was thinking Denmark and the Netherlands. Fewer shootings, sure, and the cops are probably generally nicer, but there still seems to be that toxic us vs. them feeling at times. It’s likely that there are some bad effects of having armed enforcers that cannot be excised, at least until we achieve anarchist communism.

            • I’m totally uninformed on the European examples of cop misconduct you’re citing, but I believe you. Denmark I know for sure has a major problem with racism towards Muslim immigrants and I don’t imagine Holland is much better. Sigh.

              When I was a kid our family’s oldest friends were a couple where the husband had really struggled since Vietnam. In and out of rehab, that kind of trouble. So he becomes a Portland, OR, police officer, and he’s so proud he turned his life around. First day on the job — first day! — he’s confronted by a madman waving what he thinks is a knife, and he shoots the guy (knives are almost more dangerous than guns; you can miss with a gun.) Turns out he was waving a plastic fork. The family friend loses his job (correctly so), slides back into addiction (sadly so.) But he managed to stay out of the penal system, and I understand now he’s in his 70s and doing fine.

              Being a cop is a difficult and stressful job! Lord knows I wouldn’t want any part of it. And I respect how difficult it is, the same way I respect anyone who has a stressful job — fast food workers, for example. I don’t think, however, that cops deserve more respect than other people in stressful jobs — more than highway workers, say. And in America at least (if not everywhere, as you suggest) they tend to demand extra respect. Like they’re all that protects us from the wolves at the door. No, that’s called “community standards,” it’s a natural trait of humans to behave well among other humans, and in some ways arrogant cops are making it worse, not better!

              • The discussion continues to be interesting, but please note that I neither cited nor alleged any specific instances of cop misconduct in those countries. But the toxic us vs. them vibe has been experienced in every country by basically 100% of street people and refugees with whom I have spoke.

                It’s not just a problem with arrogant individuals and Western cop culture – possibly correctable – but an irreducible residue of conflict arising in the face of armed authority – probably never to be fully corrected.

                In terms of the matter discussed in the OP, that is well within the first category. Probably I should not be, but yet I am, amazed that this Kroll asshole came back with an insult that 4th graders might consider immature.

                • Glad I’m not being annoying by keeping the thread going! I worry about this stuff. I’ll send people e-mails, they’ll respond just to be polite, and I’ll be all like, “yippee! Human interaction from the security of my desk! Yay!” Those unfortunate bastards …

                  So I’ll drop this thread, as much as I’ve appreciated your insights. You got stuff to do.

                  Those ridiculous comments by the cop union rep are the soul of the OP. Had the spokesperson just said “officers are free to take on or quit outside employment as they choose,” no post, that statement would be correct. Instead, he started with a whiny response to the Lynx’s utterly calm call for peace, then doubled down on dumb by insulting, essentially, “lame-ass girl sports.” And the Lynx are amazingly good! What a colossal doofus…

  2. Thanks for picking up on this story.
    I lived in MN for a short time and was amazed to be there ten days, out in public, at malls and walmart, before I saw someone who was not white. I was shocked.
    So, when a KKK ad was on the tv….it took me several minutes to realize it was a fake commercial and the channel was the comedy channel…..because of the environment i was in: surrounded toothless rednecks who are firmly opposed to anything government related, such as fluoridation.

    The idea that ‘officers’ who supposedly take their jobs seriously and care deeply about public safety would be willing to walk out on an event which requires crowd and traffic control because of (politically) bruised egos is highly offensive.

    Thanks again.

    • Yeah. The Twin Cities are pretty pale … and once you leave the cities, fuggitabouddit. And, ooh boy, the joys of rural politics. Last year we were driving through some tiny farm town (pop. 145 or so) and it seemed like half the population was out in front of a family planning clinic! I asked my companion (a MN native) what the deal was … certainly these people didn’t want their teenagers getting knocked up, right? The native replied, “yeah, but look at this town. They’re BORED.”

      Happily protest events about police misconduct have been more rainbow-hued. One at the State Capitol last Sunday had free music and food trucks. But that’s life in the big city … not as boring.

      Thanks for the nice words!

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