Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau sent a missive to rank-and-file officers on Sunday: “The assassination of two NYPD officers yesterday is outrageous and unacceptable!” The same message was posted on the cop shop’s Facebook page, along with a post from Saturday that read: “The MPD’s thoughts and prayers are with the NYPD and their officers’ families.”
All in all, though, there was no change in protocol or procedures for officers in Minneapolis and throughout the Twin Cities area on Sunday in the wake of the slayings of New York City Police Department officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.
“They go to roll call every day thinking this type of thing is possible,” said Scott Seroka, Minneapolis police spokesman.
Seroka said no decision has been made about whether to send Minneapolis officers to New York for the slain officers’ funerals.
Although the killer, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, had vowed online to kill two “pigs” in retaliation for the death of Eric Garner after an NYPD officer used a chokehold, local experts and organizers said the largely peaceful protests here weren’t — and aren’t — a flash point for killing police.
Candace Montgomery, with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, was an organizer of a protest Saturday at the Mall of America. She said she sees no connection between protests going on across the country and the actions of a single man in New York.
Brinsley also allegedly shot his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore before traveling to New York and attacking the officers, Montgomery pointed out.
“Before we talk about, is he taking it too far, we should talk about his unchecked mental-health issues,” she said.
The protests, she said, aren’t “just to take down individuals; it’s to change an entire system. What I see coming out of these protests is a lot of hope.”
St. Paul police spokesman Steve Linders said that Chief Tom Smith hasn’t sent a message to officers but that “all of our police officers are aware of what’s happened. It’s a tragedy for sure.
“We take great pride in the relationships we have with people and the partnerships we have with the community.”
As to whether the protests could spur individuals to violence, “that’s not for the St. Paul Police Department to comment on,” Linders said. “People have a right to free speech and to assemble and be heard.”
Tony Bouza, former police chief in Minneapolis and a former New Yorker, called the killing of the officers “an Earth-moving event that’s going to have wide and serious repercussions.”
He said, however, it would be a huge mistake to blame Black Lives Matter or other demonstrations.
“This protest movement has legs,” Bouza said. “Most don’t, but this one does.
“It would be a bad mistake to criticize peaceful, legal protests. It’s a hugely complicated issue. The underlying issue is race. We refuse to confront that.”
Bouza also commented on news reports that NYPD officers demonstrated their anger by turning their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio when he came to a hospital to pay his respects to the slain officers.
“The same thing happened to me in 1981,” Bouza said. “I was excluded from the church [during an officer’s funeral]. I attended the funeral standing on the sidewalk outside the church. That’s the reality. Cops get quite hysterical, no question. This is a hysterical moment. This is serious.”
Still, he said: “De Blasio has been somewhat more than deaf in dealing with the cops.”