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Minneapolis mayor blasts police union head over ‘jackass remarks’ on Lynx

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minneapolis police chief and mayor said Tuesday they do not condone the actions of four police officers who walked off the job at a Minnesota Lynx game Saturday at Target Center after the WNBA players held a news conference on ...

Minnesota Lynx players wear black T-shirts on Saturday night that read "Change starts with us, justice and accountability" and on the back had Philando Castile's and Alton Sterling's names along with "Black Lives Matter." Photos: Lynx PR via Twitter
Minnesota Lynx players wear black T-shirts on Saturday night that read "Change starts with us, justice and accountability" and on the back had Philando Castile's and Alton Sterling's names along with "Black Lives Matter." Photos: Lynx PR via Twitter

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minneapolis police chief and mayor said Tuesday they do not condone the actions of four police officers who walked off the job at a Minnesota Lynx game Saturday at Target Center after the WNBA players held a news conference on racial profiling and wore Black Lives Matter warmup jerseys.

“While I do not condone the actions of the officers, I realize how every member of law enforcement throughout this country, including myself, is feeling right now,” Chief Janee Harteau said in the written statement.

“Everyone is hurting and we all need to find a way to come together,” she continued. “I am proud of our profession and the service our officers provide on a daily basis. Accountability is a must but police officers also deserve and need public support.”

The players wore black T-shirts that read “Change starts with us, justice and accountability.”

The names of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, along with “Black Lives Matter” and an emblem of the Dallas Police Department, appeared on the backs of the shirts. Castile and Sterling were killed by police this month in Falcon Heights and Baton Rouge, La., respectively.

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On July 7, five Dallas police officers were murdered by a gunman during a Black Lives Matter march to protest their deaths.

The officers who walked off the job were reportedly working security on contract. Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, the union that represents officers, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Kroll reportedly told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that he commended the officers’ decision and that the four took their names off a list to work future games.

He added that other officers might follow suit, saying “if (the players) are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there.”

He later reportedly made a comment that the Lynx have a “pathetic draw” as far as attendance.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges took issue with Kroll’s comments in a Facebook message posted Tuesday afternoon.

“Bob Kroll’s remarks about the Lynx are jackass remarks. Let me be clear: Labor leadership inherently does not speak on behalf of management. Bob Kroll sure as hell doesn’t speak for me about the Lynx or about anything else,” the post read.

Before their afternoon game Tuesday at San Antonio, the Lynx released a statement regarding the walkout, saying it “was made aware about the concerns of the off duty Minneapolis police officers who had signed up to work Saturday night’s game vs. Dallas.”

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“While our players message mourned the loss of life due to last week’s shootings, we respect the right of those individual officers to express their own beliefs in their own way,” the statement continued. “At no time was the safety of our game in question as Target Center staffs extra personnel for each and every game.

“The Lynx and the entire WNBA have been saddened by the recent shootings in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and St. Paul. We continue to urge a constructive discussion about the issues raised by these tragedies.”

The team said players wouldn’t wear the shirts in today’s game in San Antonio.

 

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