Four weeks after George Floyd’s death, a struggling police union finally speaks

In a Monday interview with CNN, union officials said critics of the Minneapolis police department unfairly insulted them, and criticized local elected officials who called for a major reform of the department, even when union officials offered few specific police reforms. . they would be willing to support.

“We have become scapegoats in this,” said Bob Kroll, president of the police union, adding that “the people who are blamed fall directly on the shoulders of our political leadership.”

Minneapolis became a hot spot for advocates of criminal justice reform after Floyd was killed during a meeting with at least four of the city’s police officers. In the eyewitness video of the incident, former officer Derek Chauvin was seen pressing his knee against the black man’s neck for nearly eight minutes when Floyd passed out.
Officer in George Floyd's death under review by state police board of conduct

Prosecutors charged Chauvin with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. The other three officers were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree killings, and aiding and abetting second-degree killings.

When asked by CNN what went through his mind while watching the video of Floyd’s death, police union representative Rich Walker said he was “appalled.”

“I don’t know what was going through Officer Chauvin’s mind, but I can say I don’t agree with how it ended,” Walker said. “And to this day I still believe that Mr. Floyd should still be here.”

Kroll echoed those comments; however, he failed to state what he believes should happen to Chauvin, instead of insisting that he did not want to pass judgment on the former officer.

“There was a firefighter at the scene that said, you know, ‘look at it, look at it.’ The light should have gone out (sic) to do that, but we are not going to pass judgment,” Kroll said. “The justice system is going to prevail.”

Leading the city leadership

In trying to defend Minneapolis police officers from what they consider to be unfair criticism, union leaders targeted the city mayor and city council members who recently called for the restructuring of the police department.

Union officials also criticized Minneapolis police department leaders for their decision to allow protesters to set fire to the third building on the city’s police compound without a show of force by officers to protect the building.

Sgt. Anna Hedberg, the union’s director, said officers were struggling to get their belongings out of the third compound before it fell. “That’s just … that was one of the hardest things to see in my career,” said Hedberg.

“See 54 policemen who shouldn’t have been there being chased down the street because the failed politicians allowed them to be there, knowing full well that they weren’t going to send the resources,” he said.

While union police leaders had no shortage of complaints against politicians who have openly voiced their demand for police reforms in the wake of Floyd’s death, union leaders were unwilling to outline specific proposals they would be ready to support today.

Correctional officers say they were barred from Derek Chauvin's apartment because of their skin color.
After the Floyd murder, the Minnesota Governor called a special session of the state legislature in hopes of pushing forward a package of possible reforms, including reducing police violence, and efforts to ensure greater accountability and transparency. Police. Those efforts seemed to stagnate when the special session came to an end late last week with numerous reform bills still pending.

When asked repeatedly by CNN what laws they would support, Minneapolis police union officials said they had not yet had time to read the multiple bills submitted to state legislatures, and warned to rush through police reform measures. It could have unintended consequences.

“We need time,” said Kroll, adding, “Everyone should breathe.”

A controversial president

Even before the police meeting that resulted in the death of George Floyd, union president Bob Kroll found himself in the national spotlight for controversial public statements and for actively participating in partisan campaigns for President Donald Trump.

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Chief of the Minneapolis Police Union Bob Kroll on stage during a campaign rally at the Target Center on October 10, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In 2016 Kroll referred to Black Lives Matter, the diffuse group now responsible for organizing many of the mainly peaceful protests against police violence across the country, as a “terrorist organization”, and said he did not see BLM as “a voice for the black community in Minneapolis. ”

When asked by CNN if he endorsed those comments, Kroll doubled over and said he equates parts of the Black Lives Matter movement with domestic terrorism.

Kroll also defended his attendance at the stage at a 2019 Trump campaign rally in Minnesota, saying that he and his colleagues were unhappy with a statement at the time by the city’s mayor that Trump was not welcome in the city.

“The Obama administration and the handcuffs and police oppression were despicable,” Kroll said as he stood next to the president in a ‘Cops for Trump’ shirt. “The first thing President Trump did when he took office was to change that,” he added.

In 2007, Kroll was named in a racial discrimination lawsuit against five African-American officials in Minneapolis, alleging that Kroll referred to then-Federal Representative Keith Ellison as a “terrorist.” Ellison, who is now the Minnesota attorney general, is a black Muslim, and has promised to “hold everyone accountable” in the Floyd case.

The same lawsuit also accused Kroll of wearing a motorcycle jacket with “white power” written on it. Kroll denied the allegations and the lawsuit was settled for $ 740,000.

In 2004 Kroll was named in another lawsuit for excessive use of force against a man who allegedly brushed against his car. Kroll and another officer, both off duty, allegedly shoved and kicked the man to the ground. Kroll denied having acted wrong.

A 2015 review of Kroll’s 26 years in force by the Minneapolis Star Tribune found 20 internal affairs complaints against him, all but three closed without disciplinary action being taken.

Multiple investigations

While union officials continue to defend the credibility of their department after Floyd’s death and the criminal prosecution of four of the city’s police officers, scrutiny of the conflicting department is likely to continue on multiple fronts.

In addition to the state’s criminal investigation into Floyd’s death, the FBI is conducting a concurrent civil rights investigation into the incident. Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights continues to investigate whether there is a pattern of police officers in Minneapolis who unfairly discriminate against people of color.

Still, union officials say that none of the recent events, nor the litany of department investigations, should result in a general brush with city police officers.

“We need people to stop classifying the police and the police profession as these violent racists and stop demonizing the police for what they do,” said Sherral Schmidt, the union’s vice president, who is again up to politicians, and He added that elected city officials should “Spend more time looking for ways to involve the community and the police so that we can move forward in developing safer communities for the people of Minneapolis.”