A video showing Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Police Chief Janeé Harteau joining a group of children in making the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture is making the rounds on social media.
The clip comes from an Oct. 8 community forum at Macedonia Baptist Church, the first of three public meetings the mayor and the chief held to listen to comments and field questions about police-community relations.
It shows Hodges and Harteau dancing with a group of children from the We Win Institute, a youth-focused nonprofit group. At the end of the impromptu performance, the young performers put their hands up in the air, shouting: “hands up, don’t shoot.” The mayor and the chief also raise their arms.
The chant and gesture has played a prominent role in recent protests that followed two grand juries’ decisions not to indict police officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner, in New York City. The community forum was held after both men had died, but before either of those grand jury decisions.
The mayor’s spokeswoman, Kate Brickman, confirmed that the video was from the Oct. 8 event. Speaking on behalf of Hodges and Harteau, she said the children opened the program with a performance and then “spontaneously pulled the mayor and chief up to dance with them,” adding that nearly 100 members of the public and several local media representatives were at the event.
Officials declined to comment further.
Hodges has said she wants to root out problems in the department among officers who “abuse the trust that is afforded to them,” but has also said she supports the city’s police force and intends to work to build a stronger relationship with all of its members.
The mayor tangled with police union president John Delmonico in November. The union head questioned the mayor’s loyalty to police after a controversy erupted after a photo of Hodges posing with an election canvasser became the subject of a KSTP-TV news story. The two since have met and said they’ve moved beyond the “pointergate” debate and are working together.
Delmonico could not be reached for comment Wednesday.