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After Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau resigns, protesters disrupt City Hall

Former Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau stepped down from her role Friday just six days after an MPD officer shot an Australian woman in south Minneapolis.
Mayor Betsy Hodges speaks on Police Chief Jane
Image by Chris Dang
Mayor Betsy Hodges speaks on Police Chief Jane

Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau resigned Friday at Mayor Betsy Hodges’ request, spurring protest at City Hall.

Hodges chose Assistant Chief Medaria “Rondo” Arradondo to replace Harteau for the rest of her term. Her departure came just days after MPD Officer Mohamed Noor shot and killed Justine Damond, an Australia native, in south Minneapolis July 15. 

Damond had called 911 to seek help for a neighbor she believed was being attacked in the minutes before Mohamed Noor, the responding officer, shot and killed her from the window of his vehicle.

The incident sparked international outrage. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the shooting “shocking” and “inexplicable.” Hodges said she was “heartsick and deeply disturbed” by the shooting.

“Last Saturday’s tragedy, as well as some other recent incidents, have caused me to engage in deep reflection,” Harteau said in a statement. “The recent incidents do not reflect the training and procedures we’ve developed as a Department. … I’ve decided I am willing to step aside to let a fresh set of leadership eyes see what more can be done for the MPD to be the very best it can be.”

Hodges said she asked Harteau for her resignation Friday. Harteau was also Chief during the highly controversial MPD shooting of Jamar Clark in November 2015.

“As far as we have come, I’ve lost confidence in the Chief’s ability to lead us further,” Hodges said in a statement. “For us to continue to transform policing — and community trust in policing — we need new leadership at MPD.”

Three minutes through Hodges’ Friday night press conference, a large group protesters entered the room and demanded her resignation as well. 

Harteau had been the chief since 2012 and was the first woman to assume the role. She worked with the MPD for over 30 years.

“Beyond the resignation of Chief Harteau, we need to completely change our city’s approach to public safety — moving towards providing services, investing in communities, and developing community-based solutions,“ said Mayoral Candidate Raymond Dehn in a statement. “Until then, we must make immediate changes in the Minneapolis Police Department.“

Protests at City Hall

Hodges’ press conference on Friday’s events began after 8 p.m. at City Hall, including a run down of both Harteau’s resignation and the selection of Arradondo as her replacement. But minutes into the speech, a man in the crowd shouted over Hodges and called for her resignation.

After rallying outside city hall, about 100 protesters filled the conference room and the surrounding area. They overwhelmed the lone security guard tasked with stopping them outside the building.

“We do not want you as the mayor of Minneapolis, and we are asking you to resign,” said John Thompson, friend of shooting victim Philando Castile. He and fellow protesters also denounced  Arradondo as a superficial and insubstantial new leader.

Protesters soon joined in with Thompson, echoing chants of “Bye, bye, Betsy,” before they took the podium from Hodges. They carried banners and posters, chanting “No justice, no peace” and “resignation” until Hodges’ speech was drowned out. Hodges left the room, and the protesters took over.

The group took turns at the microphone voicing concerns over city policy and insisting that Hodges and the entire City Council be replaced. Grievances ranged from misuse of police body cameras in the Damond shooting to dissatisfaction with the timeline of the city’s recently passed $15 per hour minimum wage ordinance. 

About 20 minutes passed after the protesters interrupted Hodges before they left the mayor’s office of their own accord, leaving her to continue her address.

Council members call for resignation

At least two city council members said Harteau should be replaced at a council meeting Friday morning.

Council Members Jacob Frey, Ward 3 and Linea Palmisano, Ward 13, said Harteau’s handling of Damond’s shooting merits her resignation or termination and more city council members called for more MPD oversight.

Frey, a mayoral candidate, said some of the council members spoke briefly about their concerns before the meeting, but each member came to the decision on their own terms.

“It was uncomfortable coming out yesterday or the day before to say we need a new chief,” Frey said, “We have a crisis of confidence in the mayor’s office and our police department right now and this was necessary to regain public trust.”

Palmisano, whose ward includes the area where the shooting occurred, called for major changes.

“I will be pushing for fundamental changes in our police department from top to bottom,” she said at the meeting. “We must seriously consider whether we need a change of leadership in our police department.”

Ward 2 Council Member Cam Gordon said the statements addressed many of his concerns with the chief, but he was not ready to call for her resignation.

“I’ve had concerns about the chief for a while,” Gordon said. “I recognize the good things [Harteau has] done, but I also have serious concerns.”

Bella Dally-Steele and Maraya King contributed to this report.

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