A longtime agent for Edina Realty was terminated after she posted on social media about tearing down Black Lives Matter posters in the 50th and France area, the heart of the city’s business district.
Facebook posts on Babette Gillet Bean’s account last week showed a photo of a crumpled Black Lives Matter poster.
“I ripped off many in DT Edina tonight,” Bean commented.
Gena Henrich, Edina Realty’s director of marketing, confirmed that the company ended its relationship with Bean after being made aware of the Facebook posts. The agency also announced Bean’s termination through its own Facebook account.
In an e-mail Tuesday night, Bean said her actions had been misunderstood.
“I removed four posters that had been affixed to light poles on my apartment complex property,” she wrote. “I did not do so as some kind of political or racist act, but because any postings — regardless of content — on light poles are prohibited by city ordinance. I regularly remove garage sale, for sale and all kinds of other signs posted [on] the poles and have done so for years.
“I did not remove these signs because I am somehow racist or against the movement to once and for all eradicate systemic racism in our government institutions and society,” Bean wrote. “I fully support the public outcry for long overdue change in our police departments that all too often deliver grossly unequal justice to African Americans and other minorities.”
In an interview Tuesday, Edina Realty CEO Greg Mason said the company is committed to promoting equity and fighting bias in all its services. The company, which operates throughout Minnesota and much of Wisconsin, has about 2,300 agents.
“You have to be focused and passionate, and we are,” Mason said. “And we will double down on our efforts.”
As with many communities in the Twin Cities area, Edina’s history includes institutional racism. Homes in the city’s Country Club neighborhood, built between 1924 and 1944, included racially restrictive covenants. As one of the nation’s first planned communities, with more than 550 upscale homes, it helped transform Edina from its farming origins into a prosperous suburb.
Home buyers in Country Club had to agree they would never sell their property to anyone “other than one of the white or Caucasian race.”
Nonwhites also were barred from living in Country Club unless they were domestic servants who lived in the household they served.
Other neighborhoods in Edina also used racial covenants, as did thousands of properties in Minneapolis and other Minnesota communities.
More information can be found at Mapping Prejudice, a University of Minnesota project that has cataloged racial covenants on Hennepin County properties.
Mason said Edina Realty has a diversity and inclusion team that meets regularly and includes top executives. Its title company is helping with research on restrictive covenants, and offering information on how homeowners can get them removed from a title — even though the covenants are no longer enforceable.