MINNEAPOLIS, MN. – The Minneapolis Police Commissioner, Medaria Arradondo, is protected with plexiglass and sits with folded hands. After a week-long hiatus, the trial of Derek Chauvin, whom Arradondo had dismissed for the murder of George Floyd, resumed Monday.
Outside, sunlight shimmers off the fences and barbed wires that surround the courthouse. Arradondo, dressed in a light blue police uniform, is the second witness of the day in the courtroom in 1856. A bright yellow lanyard around his neck announces that he is one of them.
The outdoor obstacles are provided by Operation Safety Net, a multi-jurisdictional task force that includes the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and the Minnesota National Guard. Three miles away, a similar fortress wraps itself around the third ward, which burned down during the protests after Floyd’s death. On it hangs the portrait of MLK under handmade signs:
WATCH OUR ANCESTORS.
WHAT WOULD YOU HEAR?
T.When Chief Arradondo walked into the booth on Monday, he didn’t crush any words. “I absolutely agree that this is against our guidelines,” he told the jury about Chauvin’s actions. Last week, Chauvin’s supervisor, Sgt. David Pleoger of the Third Ward, testified that Chauvin initially failed to inform him of the deadly restraint he had used. Richard Zimmerman, the MPD’s longest serving member, called it “completely unnecessary”.
The police are historically defensive institutions. But Arradondo, MPD’s first black police chief, immediately distanced himself from the officers who killed George Floyd, fired all four within 24 hours, and called their actions “an offense against humanity”. live on CNN.
Arradondo took over the helm of the MPD in 2017, almost three decades after joining. In 2007 he filed a lawsuit against the department for racism, citing a white power patch worn by Lt. Bob Kroll –a white Trump ally and past President of the Minneapolis Police Federation.
Kroll, a longtime target of local activists, retired shortly after the Capitol Rising on January 6th. At the end of last summer, protesters wore shirts that said “Bob KKKroll Must Go!” Caravan half an hour into his suburb and went out into the street. Kroll openly boasted of his shame: 54 complaints and 11 lawsuits to his name.