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Minneapolis police union chief blames 'ultra-left agenda' for pack robberies

Minneapolis Police Lt. Bob Kroll: "It’s an ultra-left agenda that the police are the problem and it’s a racially-biased criminal justice system here, and we need to de-police."

Minneapolis Police Lt. Bob Kroll: "It’s an ultra-left agenda that the police are the problem and it’s a racially-biased criminal justice system here, and we need to de-police." Fox and Friends

Usually it takes a Super Bowl for national media to remember that Minneapolis exists, but Fox and Friends has turned the spotlight on the city for a less prestigious reason.

In August, surveillance cameras caught not one but two violent pack robberies downtown. Groups of young people – the oldest 27, the youngest only 15 – swarmed victims, beat them unconscious, and took off with their valuables. The footage is genuinely terrifying to watch, which is why Fox and Friends was more than happy to have Minneapolis Police Federation President Bob Kroll on the show.

Twenty people have been arrested and 18 have been charged. But Kroll spent most of the time talking about the Minneapolis City Council.

“They think that they know policing better than the person that they put in charge of the police department,” he said. “It’s an agenda here. It’s an ultra-left agenda that the police are the problem and it’s a racially-biased criminal justice system here, and we need to de-police. That’s the overtone of our council.”

And this “ultra-left agenda” is to blame for these high-profile attacks. The robbers, he said, could only have participated in such vicious attacks because they “know” there won’t be any “reprisal.”

“They’re not going to get prosecuted,” Kroll said. “They’re going to get the Big Three – and that’s probation, restitution, and treatment. They’re not going to do time for this, and they know that.”

Kroll’s always been clear that he thinks Minneapolis needs more officers. He says the city has fewer cops than it did 20 years ago, and that the growth of the force is not keeping up with the growth of the city. He’s supported the police chief’s request to add 400 more officers over the next few years. Mayor Jacob Frey’s budget proposal is sticking to adding just 14.

But it’s also worth noting that violent crime downtown has actually been pretty stagnant over the past five years. On top of that, what little data we’ve managed to collect on racial bias in the Minneapolis Police Department does show that black people – who make up about 18 percent of the city’s population – had a disproportionate share of interactions with police from 2016 to 2017. They were stopped by officers twice as often as white people, who make up about 60 percent of the population.

Several members of the council told KSTP that, yes, they’d seen Kroll’s Fox News spot, and a few didn’t seem to think it was necessarily helpful. Councilmember Alondra Cano called his rhetoric “misleading.” A statement from Frey’s office implied Kroll was “inciting fear and further sensationalizing tragic public safety events in our city.”

Meanwhile, on social media, Kroll earned himself a lot of praise.

“One hundred percent of everything he’s said makes perfect sense,” one commenter said.

“We believe in and support Bob Kroll,” another added.

“Thank you Lt. Bob Kroll for having the courage to speak out against the liberal dangerous powers that be,” another agreed.

But he also earned some pretty spirited disdain. One commenter minced no words in saying Kroll was “truly the most vile piece of shit.”

“GET HIM GONE!” another demanded.

Kroll’s not getting gone anytime soon. But Minneapolis will still have to reckon with the forces that push and pull its criminal justice system – hopefully in a way that keeps Minneapolitans at the center of the debate. Fox News will eventually lose interest, and so will all the far-flung commenters on social media. But we’ll still be here.