After the Brooklyn Center Police Department posted and later removed a recruitment video from social media, community and activist pushback continued on Jan. 9 as new City Council members were sworn into office.
The video, which remains available on social media through outside parties, shows members of the Police Department preparing for duty before responding to an incident. The mostly white, all-male group handles firearms before responding to an apparent nighttime crime scene, arresting a suspect and seizing handguns from a vehicle.
A number of residents and activist groups requested the video be taken down. It has since been removed from city social media accounts.
Pushback against the city has continued for about two weeks following the video’s removal.
The Council Chambers were standing-room-only as a multitude of individuals planned to speak during the council’s open forum session, a 15-minute non-televised comment period when the public can deliver comments to the council.
Swearing-in ceremonies for the new mayor and two council members were scheduled to begin after the open forum.
Resident Alfreda Daniels told the council that after she posted concerns about the recruitment video on social media, she received threats and has hired private security for her home.
“I reposted this video on a local Facebook page that I run,” with a trigger-warning caption, she said.
According to Daniels, a Brooklyn Center Police Officer shared her post in a crime-watch group and a Blue Lives Matter group on social media.
“On Twitter alone, 40,000 people have my named tagged as an agitator who is anti-police,” she said. “As a Black woman, this is like putting a gun to my head. As a Black woman in this country, this officer’s behavior directly put my (life) and the life of my family at risk. I have already had six people with unknown names reach out to me on social media with direct threats to my life.”
She said she is in contact with a lawyer to determine if she can pursue litigation against the city.
Another resident told the council she had received threats and was keeping her daughter in a safe location. She began to shake and had to be helped out of the room.
While Mike Elliott, the previous mayor, occasionally extended open forum sessions beyond the allotted time period when there were more speakers than time, Mayor April Graves asked the council for a motion to close the forum with additional speakers wanting to comment.
She said that while she understood and shared concerns, the council had business to attend to beyond the question of policing and was available by phone and email.
“When I saw the video I wasn’t happy about it either. I didn’t like it, and I totally understand why people were upset about it,” Graves said. “I also think that we still do need to recruit police officers but we definitely want them to be the kind of police officers we want to serve our city.”
Graves said she and the council were not informed about the video before it was posted.
“I also know that it didn’t go through the city manager, that it was a decision that was made within the Police Department and that we weren’t happy about that, which is why when it was brought to our attention it was taken down,” Graves said.
She said it is important to work with the Police Department to explain why the video was “triggering and harmful to our community.”
Graves said she that while she plans to work toward improving police and community relations, she does not support “canceling folks or firing folks unless it’s an extremely egregious situation. I think an example of that might be doing things like posting someone’s personal information on Facebook. But the video itself, making it, I think some of that might be a lack of perception. Their perspective having been indoctrinated in police culture is not the same perspective as me, is not the same perspective as Katie (Wright, mother of Daunte Wright), so I don’t necessarily think that the intention was to create harm when they created it, in my opinion.”
Issues that come before the council “are interconnected and intersectional,” Graves said, but during this meeting, “this is also an occasion to celebrate the new leadership – I have my children here, my father here, my mother here, my brother here, some of my best friends here, and I would also like to go ahead and get sworn in tonight as the first Black woman mayor.”
Communities United Against Police Brutality hosted a press conference just outside the Brooklyn Center City Council Chambers and questioned the city’s actions.
The group demanded that those responsible for creating the video be fired.
“When you see this very hyper-masculinized, militarized video that shows virtually all-white police officers, not a single female police officer, in a town with 67% people of color, and it’s this very, nighttime video with this guy bringing out his AR and getting into a squad car and the lights are screaming and flashing and so forth, who are you trying to recruit with a video like that?” said Michelle Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality. “Understand why we have a concern about a video that exemplifies this kind of adrenaline-junky sort of conduct.”
Gross questioned who funded the video and gave permission to post it to social media and the city’s website.
“We are insisting that people have discipline up to and including termination for this incredibly bad decision,” she said.
Among those supporting the group were Amity Dimock, whose son Kobe Dimock-Heisler was shot and killed by Brooklyn Center Police in a 2019 domestic incident; Katie Wright, whose son Daunte Wright was shot and killed by Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter in April 2021; and the family of Blessings McLurain-Gray, a six-year-old who was killed in a car crash as Brooklyn Center Police followed a murder suspect in summer 2022.
Wright said she is a member of the Brooklyn Center Public Safety Implementation Committee, which is working toward transitioning the city’s public safety response so that mental health professionals and unarmed civilians respond to mental health calls-for-service and non-moving traffic violations.
She said the video “represented our community horribly and it represented what we need in policing for our communities. It did not represent the 67% of BIPOC community that we have in Brooklyn Center.”
“This video is a slap to the face of the work that we have been doing,” Dimock said.
Cortel Gray, father Blessings McLurain-Gray, said he was present to “see change and speak my baby’s name, and try to see something different.”
Wright said she and Dimock had a meeting with city officials the morning of Jan. 9, but that her accountability questions remain unanswered.
“The city says that they will make a new recruitment video,” she said. “A lot of our concerns, we have to put in a data request in order to get that information, if we’re even able to.”
“The video in question does not represent the full breadth of community policing by the city of Brooklyn Center officers, nor our community engagement efforts,” Police Chief Kellace McDaniel said in a previous statement to the Sun Post.
“We must have a recruitment resource that demonstrates police collaborating with city leaders and the community to protect and promote the safety and well-being of residents and visitors across the city. We determined to immediately remove the video from all social media platforms.”
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