MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With twinkling lights and dozens of ornaments, it looks like a typical Christmas tree, but it represents so much more than just a holiday decoration.
“We need to mend some relationships. We need to mend some broken things than have happened in our community,” said community activist Chauntyll Allen.
North Minneapolis residents bundled up to trim this tree outside the Fourth Precinct on Friday night. It’s the same place where another tree gained attention for a very different reason.
“We are here today to show that when unhealthy things happen in our community we are going to stand up,” said Minneapolis Parks & Rec Board Commissioner Latrisha Vetaw.
Last week, two Minneapolis police officers were put on leave and the inspector was demoted after an image of the precinct’s tree circulated online. Adorned with Newport cigarettes, malt liquor and police tape, it put another fracture in the already-strained relationship between law enforcement and the community.
“Our tax dollars went into decorating that tree and the mindset behind it,” said Allen.
“Knowing that Mr. [Jamar] Clark just was killed up the road, not too long ago. Those wounds are still very, very fresh,” said Juan Coleman.
The festivities on Friday night weren’t organized by the police department. It was put on by the people who live here, aiming to showcase what their community is really all about.
“They wanted to make it very clear what occurred inside that building of ours … that’s not about who the people of north Minneapolis are,” said Minneapolis Police Department Chief Medaria Arradondo.
Community leaders hope the light of change and unity sparked here lasts long after the holiday season is over.
“Public safety belongs in the hands of the community. I think that we can work together and navigate some positive changes,” said Arradondo.
Those two officers involved in the controversial tree decoration remain on leave.
The Minneapolis Police Department tells WCCO-TV the investigation into the incident is ongoing.