06:12 GMT09 August 2020
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    Two Minneapolis police officers are on administrative leave amid an internal affairs investigation into what the city’s mayor condemned as their “racist” Christmas decorations at the city’s fourth police precinct.

    That's the same police precinct that the officers who fatally shot Jamar Clark in 2015 belonged to. After the shooting, protesters demonstrated outside of the precinct for 18 consecutive nights. Since then, "police leaders have struggled to rebuild community trust," the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

    Last week, images surfaced on social media of a Christmas tree inside the precinct decorated with products that are associated (sometimes with derogatory connotations) with black Americans, including a can of Steel Reserve malt liquor, a pack of Newport cigarettes, a bag of Takis (a brand of corn chips), police tape and a cup from Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (a fried chicken fast food chain).

    "It's a modern-day version of a dog whistle, tainted with racism, specifically against the African-American community," civil rights activist Ron Edwards said, according to the paper.

    Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called the Christmas tree a "racist display" and "despicable" at a contentious City Hall meeting on Friday, vowing that the officers behind the tree "will be fired before the day is over."

    But firing police officers isn't easy in the US, where police unions stipulate in contract negotiations for officers a number of measures to safeguard them from getting sacked.

    Hours after the mayor vowed to have the officers fired, his spokesman Mychal Vlatkovich said that the separation process really takes more time and "there is a legally required process that must be followed."

    Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said in a Friday statement that he was "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."

    "I was angry. I was annoyed. I was disheartened. But one thing I wasn't was shocked, because the fourth precinct time and time again showed their disregard for the black community and black people overall," NAACP Minneapolis president Leslie Redmond told local media on Friday. 

    "If we don't acknowledge the systemic issues that are going on here and that this wasn't created overnight, it's not going to be fixed overnight, then we're not going to be able to move forward," she added.

    Protesters gathered once again outside the precinct on Friday night to condemn the racist holiday display.

    "We are tired of being the city's punching bag," former City Council candidate Raeisha William said there.

    Demonstrators are demanding reparations over the offensive display, including a "healing event for residents," Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.


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    Christmas Display, Christmas, Black Lives Matter, Police Misconduct, police, racist, racism
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