BY ED FELIEN
On March 7, the city of Minneapolis released an 86-page study of the riots that followed the murder of George Floyd. The study says what most government studies say: we need more studies and we need more bureaucracy.
It’s called, “Protecting What Matters,” and it seems that what matters most to the city is protecting its reputation as a progressive city that cares about serious social problems and is trying to solve them. The study doesn’t talk about the racism in the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). It doesn’t reference the 2006 FBI study that warned about white nationalist groups taking over police departments. It doesn’t talk about Bob Kroll’s influence over the MPD as president of the union. It doesn’t talk about Kroll’s leadership in City Heat, a motorcycle club of area police officers that flies Confederate flags and wears white power patches on their jackets. It doesn’t talk about Kroll being cited in a lawsuit that proved discrimination in the MPD against Black officers. It doesn’t talk about the killing of young Black men by the MPD: Terrance Franklin; Jamar Clark; Thurman Blevins; Travis Jordan; etc. It seems that “What Matters” most, what the study thinks needs “Protecting,” is white male privilege.
The key findings of the report seem trivial and filled with bureaucratic gobbledygook: “The OEM established a virtual EOC, but generally did not seem integrated with the MPD and MFD command”; “The MPD did not adhere to a proper centralized command to ensure unity in decisions and operations in compliance with Policy 7-905 Incident Command System (ICS), Policy 7-810.02 Critical Incident – On-Scene Procedures and Policy 7-910 Emergency Operations Center”; “The MFD did not follow a structured ICS. The Chief and Assistant Chief commanded from the field and were involved in operational decisions at fires, not from the EOTF where they could provide strategic direction.”
To summarize the key findings in understandable language – there was a breakdown in communications.
In the section on Timeline of Events, the report misses the significance of the key event in the riot. The demonstrations in front of the Third Precinct station were angry but generally peaceful. After Frey announced that the “four responding MPD officers involved in the death of George Floyd have been terminated. This is the right call,” the mood changed at the station house.
Essence Magazine quoted MPD Arson Investigator Sgt. Erika Christensen, who said that “before Umbrella Man became involved in the protests, specifically, before he started smashing windows of an Autozone and spray painting the words ‘free sh-t for everyone zone’ on the doors, the protests around Floyd’s death had been peaceful. The actions of this person created an atmosphere of hostility and tension. Your affiant believes that this individual’s sole aim was to incite violence.” As we noted in February of 2022, a search warrant issued by Sgt. Christensen identifies the Umbrella Man as Mitchell Wesley Carlson from Ramsey, Minnesota. Carlson was a member of the Aryan Cowboy Brotherhood and also a member of a white nationalist motorcycle club. It’s not too hard to imagine Bob Kroll and Mitch Carlson riding together and imagining themselves as heroic warriors and defenders of white male privilege.
There is no doubt that the Umbrella Man set off the conflagration. Autozone was next door to the Third Precinct. Minnehaha Liquor was across the street. Target and Cub were less than a block away.
The report does note that “some participants blamed the police union for the mixed messaging from the MPD. Specifically, some stated that the police union president at the time had too much influence within the MPD, thus empowering officers to disregard MPD leadership’s direction. Several stated that this dichotomy within the MPD contributed to the lack of trust that has developed and continues between many in the community and the MPD.
“There is a disconnect between what leadership says and what the rank and file do.”
But isn’t it possible to go even further and conclude that Bob Kroll and other racists inside the MPD wanted to get even with Frey for not supporting the officers who killed George Floyd? That they deliberately sabotaged communications between the Third Precinct and other command centers? That they deliberately held back their response to allow the Umbrella Man and others to loot and burn?
Doesn’t the public deserve a serious study that tries to find the answers to these questions?
And why hasn’t Mitchell Carlson been arrested? Who is protecting him?