2 officers on leave after 'despicable,' 'racist' Minneapolis police Christmas tree sparks outrage
Officers Mark Bohnsack and Brandy Steberg were placed on paid administrative leave while the Minneapolis Fourth Precinct police department investigates the decoration they chose for the Christmas tree.
As Atlanta Black Star reported, Bohnsack, 43, and Steberg, 47, got the suspension after the photos of the Christmas tree they decorated caused a lot of backlash on social media from people who labeled it as “racist.”
Apart from that, Inspector Aaron Biard was replaced by former Commander Chief Mike Kjos, who is expected to take Biard’s duties while the Minneapolis Fourth Precinct finds a replacement. Biard returned to his previous rank of lieutenant to work in the traffic unit.
THE MAYOR’S SUGGESTION
Even Mayor Jacob Frey took part in the incident, saying that the tree, decorated with cans of malt liquor, packages of Newport Cigarettes, police crime tape, and Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen cups, was “despicable.”
His initial suggestion was the immediate termination of Bohnsack and Steberg’s contract with the department. However, he backed off soon later as he realized that a formal process should take place first.
Even though several people on Twitter couldn’t understand why the decoration was racist, others took their time to explain that the items on the tree were stereotypes of the people police often arrest.
Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’m working on addressing it. It might seem small to some but it simply is racist and offensive, and I’m sorry the community has to experience this from our precinct.— Jeremiah Ellison (@jeremiah4north) November 30, 2018
“They're making a caricature of the Black and Latino people they arrest. One stereotype that stands out here is the one about black people liking malt liquor and friend chicken (Popeyes cup and malt liquor),” wrote one user.
This is a photo of a racist and derogatory Christmas tree at the Minneapolis 4th precinct. @jeremiah4north @CunninghamMPLS @Jacob_Frey We must demand an apology and commitment to build better community relations. This is unacceptable. pic.twitter.com/xNq4CUZUu5— North by Northside (@northxnorthside) November 30, 2018
THE KKK CHRISTMAS SONG
Unfortunately, it is not the first Christmas-related act labeled as racist this year. A pair of high school students were recorded singing about the Ku Klux Klan to the tune of the Christmas carol “Jingle Bells.”
Students at a New Hampshire high school were recorded in class singing a KKK-themed jingle with lyrics that included, "KKK, KKK, let's kill all the blacks," sparking a district investigation. https://t.co/9B8sHZbeC4— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 4, 2018
The song was part of a school assignment where the 11th-grade students had to create a Christmas song to depict one historical event from the post-Civil War Reconstruction era for a U.S. history class. They choose the creation of the KKK, but their song went terribly wrong.
Two students sang about the KKK in their class with lyrics like "kill all the blacks." One student was so disturbed she spoke to her teacher. “He did not listen. He told me to call my lawyer if I was upset about it.” So she recorded it, and it went viral. https://t.co/h4VdGo8jMz— Sandra E. Garcia (@S_Evangelina) December 5, 2018
“White masks on our heads, blood beneath our feet, laughing till they’re dead -- ha, ha, ha … KKK, KKK let’s kill all the blacks, burn a cross on their front yard and hope they don’t come back,” they sang to the tune of Jingle Bells.
The video has caused outrage in the community and sparked an investigation from the school district. Superintendent William Harbron told NBC News that the students didn’t know they were being recorded at the time.
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