MINNEAPOLIS police union president Lt Bob Kroll has claimed George Floyd was a “violent criminal” and wants officers to be able to use more force against protesters.
Kroll wrote in a letter to police union members that they don’t have support from local leaders and blasted the city’s handling of the protests and riots that have occurred since Floyd’s death last week.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died on May 25 after he was arrested for allegedly trying to use a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes.
While in police custody, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes — while Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe.
Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, and on Monday, a second, independent autopsy ruled Floyd’s death a homicide.
Overall, Chauvin and three other officers were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department following Floyd’s arrest and death.
In his letter, Kroll said police officers were being made “scapegoats” for the growing violence.
"No one with the exception of us is willing to recognize and acknowledge the extreme bravery you have displayed through this riot," the police leader wrote.
"I commend you for the excellent police work you are doing in keeping your co-workers and others safe during what everyone except us refuses to call a riot. You've turned the tide of the largest scale riot that Minneapolis has ever seen."
He wrote that leaders, like Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Minnesota Gov Tim Walz, refuse to "acknowledge the work of MPD" and claimed they "continually shift blame to it."
"It is despicable behavior," he said. "How our command staff can tolerate it and live with themselves I do not know."
"This terrorist movement that is currently occurring was a long time build up which dates back years," he said, referring to those protesting police brutality and racism.
Kroll said he’s reached out to Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka with the hope more state National Guard members would be deployed to city streets.
Kroll also said he’s working with the police union’s attorneys to try to get the four fired officers their jobs back with Minneapolis police.
"What is not being told is the violent criminal history of George Floyd. The media will not air this," he said.
"I've worked with the four defense attorneys that are representing each of our four terminated individuals under criminal investigation, in addition with our labor attorneys to fight for their jobs.”
He said the officers “were terminated without due process.”
Kroll’s letter was slammed by critics on social media, including retired Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau.
“A disgrace to the badge!” she tweeted on Monday. “This is the battle that myself and others have been fighting against. Bob Kroll turn in your badge!”
Mayor Frey shared similar thoughts: "For a man who complains so frequently about a lack of community trust and support for the police department, Bob Kroll remains shockingly indifferent to his role in undermining that trust and support.”
“His categorical opposition to reform, his consistent disrespect for civilian leadership, and his lack of empathy for the community have done more to undermine trust in police than any 'community activist' ever has."
At a rally for President Donald Trump in Minnesota in October, Kroll attacked the Obama administration for "the handcuffing and oppression of the police,” according to CNN.
Kroll then praised Trump for "letting the cops do their jobs."
Per the Star Tribune, Kroll represents more than 800 Minneapolis and park police in his role.
In 2015, the news outlet reported that Kroll had 29 complaints against him.
Teresa Nelson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, said that during a 2015 meeting with Kroll, he compared community complaints against police officers to fouls in basketball.
“He told me, ‘If you’re not getting any fouls, you’re not working hard enough,’” she said.
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