Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, had some strong words for the social movement inspired by several high-profile killings of African-Americans at the hands of police officers.
“I don’t see Black Lives Matter as a voice for the black community in Minneapolis,” CBS Minnesota reports Kroll said in a news conference Wednesday. “Real black leaders will tell you this is a terrorist organization that puts out false narratives.”
The controversial statements followed U.S. Attorney Andy Luger’s announcement that no civil rights charges would be filed against two Minneapolis officers connected to the November shooting death of Jamar Clark.
Officers Dustin Schwarze and Mark Ringgenberg were called to the scene of birthday party where an alleged domestic assault had taken place. Clark, 24, was the suspect.
Clark was shot in the head by Schwarze and later died at a local hospital.
Several witnesses said Clark was handcuffed at the time of the shooting, while police officials maintained that the young man was not handcuffed and reached for an officer’s gun during a scuffle.
The issue was crucial to the joint investigation by the Minneapolis U.S. Attorney’s Office, Minneapolis Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice. Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges asked the federal agency to intervene last year.
Officials needed to prove that the officers willfully violated Clark’s constitutional rights when he was shot, a criminal standard Luger called “one of the highest” in the land.
He said Wednesday there was not enough evidence to show that officers had committed a crime.
“Given the lack of bruising, the lack of Mr. Clark’s DNA on the handcuffs, and the deeply conflicted testimony about whether he was handcuffed, we determined we could not pursue this case based on a prosecution theory that Mr. Clark was handcuffed at the time he was shot,” Luger said from the FBI offices in Brooklyn Center.
The decision was the second major setback for supporters in two months.
In March, the Hennepin County attorney’s office also declined to file criminal charges against the officers following an investigation by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Police Chief Janeé Harteau supported both decisions in a press statement following Wednesday’s conference.
“We have had two thorough investigations into this matter that arrived at the same conclusion,” Harteau said. “I am satisfied with the thoroughness of these investigations, am confident in their results, and I hope the public will accept their conclusions.”
The fatal shooting sparked weeks of demonstrations, including an 18-day occupation of the city’s 4th Precinct led by Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.
City police used bulldozers and fire extinguishers to clear protesters from the campgrounds last December. Demonstrators said police gave them just 10 minutes to gather belongings and evacuate the premises before moving in around 4 a.m that morning. Eight people were arrested during the removal process.
The controversial union leader said BLM protestors were responsible for costly damages to the police headquarters.
“The disruption…they firebombed the precinct,” Kroll said. “There were shootings outside the precinct, hundreds of thousands of dollars [of damage] to the precinct and squad cars.”
Kroll has been an outspoken defender of the officers since the Nov. 15 killing. City Pages reports Kroll has been the subject of many excessive force and wrongful arrest lawsuits over the course of his career, including a 1993 suit that accused him of assaulting a 15-year-old African American male while hurling racial epithets.
Civil rights activists have pointed to Kroll’s ties to the City Heat, a motorcycle gang the Anti-Defamation League once called “Bigots on Bikes” with “members who have openly displayed white supremacist symbols.”
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