It is time to put aside old grudges and begin working to end police abuse.

“Pointergate” has revealed many lessons about our city, not the least of which is how far your union will go to bully and silence anyone who would criticize our Minneapolis police.

Certainly, reporter Jay Kolls and KSTP-TV deserve their fair share of blame, but we know better than to believe their story came out of thin air. The original story aired by KSTP stated that the news tip and photo came from the law enforcement community.

We see clearly now that Pointergate was crafted as an attack on Mayor Betsy Hodges for speaking out about police abuse, timed to arrive the night before her news conference on police body cameras. Even while this plan backfired, Pointergate brought shame to our city, inflamed historic divisions and inflicted deep hurt on members of our community.

We hold you responsible for this pain.

You publicly slandered a community organizer as a gang member. You attacked our mayor as she built bridges and spoke out for justice. Your spiteful words and misguided leadership gave good cops in this town a bad name.

We learned from your Oct. 17 commentary (“In response to the open letter from Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges”) that you do not believe the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) has a culture that condones racism. We wonder then: How is it possible that local black residents are 11 times more likely to be arrested for low-level crimes than their white peers?

It’s time to face the facts. There is work to be done and your defensiveness is standing in the way.

We the undersigned will not accept the culture of racism and abuse your recent words and actions represent. We will not stay quiet as your attempts at political gamesmanship do damage to those working to improve our community.

We stand united in calling for a public apology to Navell Gordon and Mayor Hodges for your involvement in Pointergate. We call, too, for a statement of your commitment to confronting the racist and abusive culture of the MPD, and improving police-community relations.

We echo and support the recommendations outlined in the Sept. 26 “Open Letter to Mayor Betsy Hodges” (posted on startribune.com), including community progress reports, an independent audit of the MPD and an opportunity for community input on the policies surrounding the use of body cameras. We call on you to work with city and MPD leadership to ensure their implementation.

Minneapolis cannot wait any longer to begin this work of reform. If you are unwilling to meet these challenges, we ask that you step aside to make room for a new leader who is.

 

Tim Harlan-Marks, Matt Barthelemy, Sam Gould, Sarah Goodspeed and Samantha Pree-Stinson are residents of Minneapolis. More than 100 Minneapolis residents have also signed this open letter. It is available at http://tinyurl.com/EndPoliceAbuse