The Minneapolis Police Department’s slogan is “To Protect with Courage, To Serve with Compassion.”
Except, as it pertains to Saturday night’s Minnesota Lynx game at the city’s Target Center.
“If we take this time to see that this is a human problem and speak out together, we can greatly reduce anxiety and create change,” Lynx guard, 2014 WNBA MVP and three-time league champ Maya Moore told reporters at a press conference players called before the game. “Tonight we will be wearing shirts to honor and mourn the losses of American citizens that were loss and to plea for change in all of us.”
Moore and her Lynx teammates sported black T shirts with the words, “CHANGE STARTS WITH US … ” piled on the front & accountability and justice on the back. The shirts featured the names Philando Castile and Alton Sterling — the two men fatally shot last week by police in Falcon Heights, Minn., and Baton Rouge, La., respectively — along with the phrase “BLACK LIVES MATTER” underneath.
Moreover, the shirts featured a Dallas Police Department emblem in honor of the five policemen killed by a rogue sniper during a rally protesting the shooting deaths of Sterling and Castile. Lynx players also denounced the “senseless ambush” of the five fallen officers, based on the Star Tribune, and commended Dallas authorities for their efforts against the unnecessary use of lethal force.
So, it appears four Minneapolis police officers walking a security detail for 7,613 off fans in attendance at Saturday’s game was ill advised at best and downright deplorable at worst. These officers are paid to protect and serve, albeit alone in this scenario, and one would believe that should take precedence over political beliefs that clash with what was a rather reasoned take by the Lynx.
In a statement, the Lynx justifiably would not request the officers to compromise their own beliefs, the team employs other security personnel and especially since they were privately contracted.
At the exact same time, the activities of the four police officers involved do not exclude them from criticism.
Making matters worse, Minneapolis Police Federation Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the city’s authorities union, stood firmly by the decision to leave their security post, even calling for others to do the same.
“I commend them for it,” Kroll told the Star Tribune. Adding that the four policemen who walked off their job have refused to work future Lynx games and many of their colleagues have joined that lack of effort, Kroll said, “If [the players] are going to keep their position, all policemen may refuse to work there.”
In other words, the Minneapolis police union is requesting WNBA players to change their stand against racial profiling if the city would enjoy policemen protecting citizens in the stands at Target Center.
This is not good. Not good at all.
According to the Star Tribune, Kroll cited “bogus stories” to the people’s reply with regard to police shootings of black men in recent years and “Dashing to judgment before the facts are in is rash and unwarranted.” But shouldn’t Kroll be held to the same standard?
Before you consider whether Castile could have also acted otherwise in the scenario that caused his departure, ask yourself if this kicker from Kroll to the Star Tribune comes from an union president who’s sensitive to this problem or does not have any interest in starting a dialogue on black lives mattering: “They just have four policemen working the event,” said Kroll, “because the Lynx have such a pathetic draw.”
There’s no uncertainty the Minneapolis Police Department protects with courage and serves with compassion the vast bulk of the time, as most law enforcement units do in the country, but in this specific instance, it certainly appears like some are running and hiding from the issue at hand.
To her credit, MPD chief Janeé Harteau appeared to agree with that sentiment in a prepared statement, addressing the notion that the officers should not be held to precisely the same standard on security details.