A group of black faith and community leaders called on Minneapolis officials Thursday to make Medaria Arradondo the permanent police chief, amid a simmering public debate about the direction of the city’s police force.
The City Council’s Executive Committee is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday to consider the first step in confirming Arradondo, who is Mayor Betsy Hodges’ nominee for the position. If the nomination is approved, the next step is a public hearing.
Longtime peace activist Spike Moss, one of the organizers of Thursday’s meeting, hailed Arradondo as a supremely qualified choice to lead the Police Department through its current crisis.
He said he looked on Arradondo’s ascension to the head of the department — one he believes has hindered the ascension of black officers like him — with a sense of divine intervention.
“And if [God] wasn’t in the mix, then why did he have a black man in position when this explosion happened?” Moss asked rhetorically during the gathering at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church. City officials should back Arradondo’s nomination, he said.
At the same time, he and other speakers called for a series of reforms, including the overhaul of police oversight.
“Don’t get it confused: While we are in wholehearted support of Rondo, it’s a corrupt system,” said the Rev. Jerry McAfee, using Arradondo’s nickname.
He and other speakers asked that the department be put under federal receivership to address some of its systemic flaws.
Arradondo also will have to contend with the powerful police union, which is averse to change, McAfee said.
“Because he can have all the good, grandiose ideas that he wants, but if the union is going against that, if the line officer is going against that,” then he will have a difficult time effecting change, McAfee said.
Arradondo, 50, was named interim chief after the sudden resignation last week of Janeé Harteau in the wake of the shooting of Justine Damond, which cast an international spotlight on the department.
The mayor said she intends to nominate Arradondo to serve out the rest of Harteau’s term through the end of next year, a move that requires the approval of the City Council’s Executive Committee.
Arradondo inherits a department still dealing with the fallout from Damond’s July 15 shooting death by officer Mohamed Noor. Damond had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her southwest Minneapolis home and was shot when she went out to talk to police.
The case has drawn international attention and revived a debate about systemic problems with police accountability and culture.