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Minneapolis Cops Find a Way to Make a Christmas Tree Racist

The most bigoted tree in Minnesota?

Two Minneapolis police officers apparently thought it would be funny to decorate the Fourth Precinct Christmas tree with items often stereotypically associated with African Americans. The decorations included a cup from Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, empty bags of Funyuns and Takis tortialla chips, two Newport cigarettes containers, and malt liquor cans:

Councilman Phillipe Cunningham, who represents the city's Fourth Ward, reports that the offending ornaments were added after the tree had already been decorated by an assigned officer.

The tree has since been taken down. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who is black, said in a statement he was "ashamed and appalled by" such behavior, according to WCCO. Mayor Jacob Frey initially promised that the "offending party will be fired" by the end of Friday, but his spokesperson, Mychal Vlatkovich, later clarified to the Minneapolis Star Tribune that there's a "legally required process that must be followed" before an officer can be terminated.

Two officers are currently on paid administrative leave while internal affairs investigates.

Local activists see the Christmas tree incident as just the latest sign of a broken culture within the police department. "If you understand the history and the attitude that the police have toward the citizens here, you'd understand that there was a meaning behind it," community activist Mel Reeves tells WCCO. Following the November 2015 police shooting of Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man, protesters camped around the Fourth Precinct headquarters for 18 days. The department ended up clearing two officers of wrongdoing in the shooting.

It's hard to tell how long the ornaments in question were up before the tree was taken down. Inspector Aaron Biard, who leads the Fourth Precinct, reportedly told Cunningham that the ornaments came down the same day they went up. But when reached by Reason, a police spokesperson refused to comment on the timeline, citing the open investigation.

Photo Credit: Twitter/@northxnorthside

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Mayor Jacob Frey initially promised that the "offending party will be fired" by the end of Friday...

    New to the job, your honor?

  • BigT||

    It is racist to presume those random items are derogatory to blacks. By doing so, you are insinuating those items ARE typical of blacks. You are buying into a racist stereotype that non racists reject.

  • mtrueman||

    "You are buying into a racist stereotype that non racists reject."

    Non racists? Who are you trying to kid? We are either racists who hate blacks or anti-racists who hate whites.

  • KevinP||

    Exactly!

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Right, dude. If you use the n-word, and someone is offended, it is because they are insinuating the word is derogatory to blacks, not because you are racist. Iron clad logic, right there.

  • Ship of Theseus||

    He's exactly correct, and your retort is moronic.

  • Juice||

    The existence of Popeye's Fried Chicken is inherently racist. Whenever you see a bucket of spicy fried chicken it's like hearing someone say nigger.

  • rsteinmetz||

    I'm white, live in New Orleans and knew Al Copeland personally. To consider Popeye's a black product only proves people in Minneapolis don't know what good fried chicken tastes like.

    BTW do any black people actusllive up ther3?

  • Ryan (formally HFTO)||

    MY PROGRESSIVE HERO!!!! be sure to link this white knighting in your social media so people hold off calling you racist for a week

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Well I think this type of response illustrates why more people are more comfortable with proudly displaying their racism nowadays - because they view anti-racism as being "pro-left" rather than an apolitical virtue by itself. And so the racism is its own type of 'virtue signal' to indicate not being on Team Left.

  • Vernon Depner||

    You almost got it. It's being able to joke about racism that is the anti-left virtue signal, not supporting racism.

  • Agammamon||

    So when Kat Williams says nigger he's being racist?

    Wait, when I wrote the above - that me being racist?

  • Juice||

    And even if they were typical of black people, why would their mere presence automatically be derogatory?

  • John||

    Is liking funyons and malt liquor cultural appropriation?

  • Trigger Warning||

    It's appropriating bad taste, anyway. Those two things are fucking gross.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Always read stories for the dog that doesn't bark.

    What aren't they saying?

    No mention of the race of the WrongDecorator.

    Probably doesn't fit The Narrative. Please post like if you find it. Or look for it and fail, which is more evidence of the dog not barking.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, empty bags of Funyuns and Takis tortialla chips, two Newport cigarettes containers, and malt liquor cans

    But its NOT racist when black folks consume these products?

    Maybe some cops were just being thankful for chicken, snacks, cigarettes, and beer.

    Somehow this will be the next two week national news cycle.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    "...the next two week national news cycle." Well hell yeah!

  • Juice||

    Maybe some cops were just being thankful for chicken, snacks, cigarettes, and beer.

    Maybe.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "But its NOT racist when black folks consume these products?"

    Of course not. Only Whitey can be racist, remember?

    It's racist to *notice* that Blacks disproportionately consume those products.

    Though I do wonder, given the conspicuous lack of reference to the "perp", was it a black guy who did it? Once the outrage mob smells blood, assuming it was Whitey, you've got to feed them some carcass. Even a black guy.

    It would be hilarious for him to turn around and sue the PD for racist discrimination against him decorating according to his cultural heritage.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, empty bags of Funyuns and Takis tortialla chips, two Newport cigarettes containers, and malt liquor cans:

    Since the creator's intent can never be known, is it possible they were celebrating diversity?

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    That's the rub here; nothing overtly racist, just some items with a degree of stereotyping attached, more or less unofficially. Would one Popeye's cup or a can of SML have been enough to set up the drama? No, but combine that with Newports and you have a racial trifecta. That you can only call out by admitting the racial stereotype.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I'm just asking questions.

  • rsteinmetz||

    I knew Al Cpeland and his only intent was to sell good tasting chicken, he was obsessive about it.

  • Ron||

    Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, empty bags of Funyuns and Takis tortialla chips, two Newport cigarettes containers, and malt liquor cans

    So White people never eat that stuff?

  • Bowerick Wowbagger||

    I had never realized Funyuns were associated with African American culture.

    Learn something new everyday I guess

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    Funyuns were always associated with potheads. Stop culturally appropriating from us.

    Funyuns, yeah!

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I had never realized Funyuns were associated with African American culture.

    Same here. Pork rinds, sure, but Funyuns?

  • Vernon Depner||

    White people might eat that stuff, but absolutely no white males smoke menthol cigarettes.

  • Nihil||

    Today I learned my dad isn't a white male because he smokes menthol cigarettes.

  • Vernon Depner||

    I should have said "straight white males".

  • buybuydandavis||

    Maybe you just learned something about your *actual* biological father.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I've certainly never eaten Newport cigarettes. Nor have I ever eaten malt liquor.

  • Homple||

    If it's not racism, it's cultural appropriation.

  • The Last American Hero||

    If trees can be misogynist (like Trump's Handmaiden Trees), why can't they be racist?

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    On the positive side, I'm glad this happened in Minneapolis, that progressive bastion of the heartland.

    As opposed to Baltimore or New Orleans, already regarded as racist backwaters.

  • Ryan (formally HFTO)||

    Wait til people find out Sharia Law is gaining popularity in Minneapolis...

    You racists don't like the idea of stoning women? how intolerant

  • Vernon Depner||

    Not too surprising—Sharia isn't all that different from traditional Lutheranism.

  • DiegoF||

    They forgot the grape soda cans and Filet O Fish sandwich clamshells.

    Actually I didn't even know that Funyuns were black. Or Natty Ice, which you can see alongside the malt liquor cans. (No MD 20/20?) I think that one is just poverty, frankly. (And the Funyuns just obesity.) A lot of this stuff I learned quite late in life was black stereotypes; I never knew they were ethnically coded. Maybe a lot of commenters feel the same. In the South for example there would be the fewest things specifically coded black; in a place like Minnesota probably the most.

  • Homple||

    "In the South for example there would be the fewest things specifically coded black; in a place like Minnesota probably the most."

    Yup.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    They forgot the grape soda cans and Filet O Fish sandwich clamshells.

    They should have just put everything from the racist gift basket.

  • Pink Cosmotarian||

    RAAAAACIST!!

  • DamnDirtyApe||

    I like Funyuns, and I'm white!

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I like menthols, and I don't even smoke!

  • buybuydandavis||

    You sure about that?

    One drop rule.

  • DamnDirtyApe||

    I also love Popeye's!

  • DiegoF||

    Nobody doesn't like Popeye's. Gourmet chefs adore it. The fact that there is a fast food chain that produces cuisine of such unreservedly good quality (we're not talking about White Castle or Waffle House here, where you say, OK but it's tasty as fuck for what it's supposed to be and I love it) is nothing short of a miracle.

  • Juice||

    Jesus, where are these gourmet Popeye's? There are none of those around here.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yeah, I've had Popeyes and was unimpressed.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Louisiana spicIST!

  • buybuydandavis||

    I never suspected Reason's comments section was so diverse.

  • Agammamon||

    Could someone explain to me why fried chicken is racist? Also, I guess everyone in the Southwest is black (or racists) because we eat Funyuns and Takis (which are *tortilla* chips, not tortialla chips). And the Indians here really do drink a shit ton of malt liquor when they drink at all.

    Seriously you all, if you decorated the tree with candycanes and gingerbread men and popcorn garland - foods that white people like - no one is flipping their wigs over that.

    https://tinyurl.com/ycgqq4bs

    Look at all that racist shit. LOOK AT IT!

  • Agammamon||

    Keep in mind Sayton - Stereotype =/= racism.

  • DiegoF||

    Joe Setyon is spoiled. No one can stereotype him because they'd have to figure out what the fuck race he is first.

  • Mock-star||

    Sayton - Stereotype =/= racism

    LIBERTARIANS HAVE BEEN SAYING THIS FOR 50 YEARS *snort*

  • Echospinner||

    Why would you put fried chicken boxes on a Christmas tree to begin with? There is nothing inherently racist about these items taken by themselves but put together it is an unmistakable stereotype. Let's not be coy about that.

  • Agammamon||

    Why is the stereotype racist? Why is playing with a stereotype racist?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    How else is outrage gonna get out of control?

  • BigT||

    Only someone who racially profiles people would think that is stereotypical. I'm learning a lot about stereotypes here today.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "if you decorated the tree with candycanes and gingerbread men and popcorn garland - foods that white people like - no one is flipping their wigs over that."

    Because you can't be racist against white people. Only racists think otherwise. Racist.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its how racist Democrats signal to corral the blacks back on the plantation.

  • Echospinner||

    So if you added Marlboro packs, McDonald's containers and Budweiser cans it would still be a stupid idea.

    Yeah it is pretty offensive.

  • Agammamon||

    Why though?

    Would decorating the tree with Marlboro packs, McDonalds, and Budweiser also be offensive.

  • Echospinner||

    I am not a Christian but if you decorated a menorah that way I would find that offensive,

  • DiegoF||

    I was in charge of my building's holiday lobby display this year. I decorated our menorah with bagels, dollar bills, and the blood of Christian children, and people got all snowflake on me. Plus they were all, "Oh, Diego, where did you bury the children?" So in addition to being PC they lacked any appreciation for artistic commitment.

  • BigT||

    No pork rind packages?

  • Echospinner||

    Now you are just arguing for your right to be offensive. You do have that on your own property

  • Agammamon||

    OK, offensive - but these guys aren't being accused of being offensive in public. They are accused of being *racists*.

    Offensive is a subjective thing. What offends you is personal. I can't necessarily know that. Racism is objective. Or at least it used to be.

  • Echospinner||

    Racially offensive or racist. A disticition without a difference.

    I do not think racism is objective and never has been. Far from it which is why we have a hard time with it.

    A swatztika is a Hindu symbol right? Just a geometric figure. There is nothing objective about what it means.

  • Agammamon||

    There is a *massive* difference. And that you can't see that is your problem.

    Is a Swastika racist now? Hindu's can't use it?

  • DiegoF||

    Correct! But not, on the other hand, the right to compel others to not be offended at a joke that was obviously meant as the sort of tonally appropriate absurdism routinely found on the comment forum rather than to insult Jews in any way.

  • Agammamon||

    'Bury the children'

    Do these people not know that you grind the bones and blood into paste and with it bake the flesh into a pie?

    Its like they've never Shakespeared before.

  • Agammamon||

    The Christmas tree does not have the same significance in Christianity that the Menorah does in Judaism. And its more than a Christian thing - even Atheists put up and decorate Christmas trees - we even call them 'Christmas trees' even if we don't celebrate the religious aspects of the Christmas holiday.

    So are we racists for decorating Christmas trees with 'stereotypical' Christian things?

  • Echospinner||

    I can't speak for Christians but it is still a Christian holiday and I know the tree is not strictly religious. Symbols are like that. Hanukkah is not even all that religious, it celebrates a military victory. It has only become more important because of Christmas. These things do evolve.

    Symbols and traditions like positive or negative stereotypes are not rational. We all recognized what the combination of things on the tree were about. It is disengenuous to suggest otherwise.

  • DiegoF||

    Menorahs are waaaay the fuck more religious than Christmas trees. And far more symbolic of a community's peoplehood. This does not work. At all. Christmas trees are normally decorated with all manner of silly things. Menorahs are not even decorated normally at all. The offense in the case you cite is less a matter of stereotyping--note that none of Marlboros, McDonald's, and Budweiser are at all Jewish stereotypes, nor (as might be pork rinds) on the other hand items specifically anathema to Jews or used to mock them--and more a matter of putting disrespectfully profane items on an object to which there is some measure of solemnity attached. Christmas trees have comparatively much less solemnity attached to them; that is why few people would take offense at those items being put on them, whereas putting even completely culturally irrelevant ones on a menorah would be offensive.

  • Echospinner||

    Fair enough. I think there is no way to draw fine lines in these matters.

  • Echospinner||

    Just to add. Happy Hanukkah to the Reason community!

    Now let's eat. We can all agree on potato latkes and jelly doughnuts.

  • Vernon Depner||

    There will be a magic show at 0900.

  • Juice||

    Would decorating the tree with Marlboro packs, McDonalds, and Budweiser also be offensive.

    Well, have you ever actually seen a black person consume any of these products?

  • Vernon Depner||

    In Minnesota, and equivalent white tree would have cans of herring, hockey pucks, and boxes of lime Jello.

  • DiegoF||

    No lutefisk?

  • Trigger Warning||

    Walleye cheeks?

  • lap83||

    Non-Norwegian Minnesotans try to avoid that crap

  • Vernon Depner||

    Non-Norwegian Minnesotans

    In other words, Blacks?

  • lap83||

    Don't forget some kind of wild rice hot dish

  • Necron 99||

    Damn, now I want some Funyuns.

  • Drave Robber||

    What if the 'offending party' turns out to be black?

  • buybuydandavis||

    I'm so hoping!

    And it seems likely, given the conspicuous lack of identification of the "perp".

  • Azathoth!!||

    Looked at a few articles and noticed an interesting word missing from descriptions of the perpetrators.

    'white'.

    The articles just refer to them as 'police' or 'officers' or 'policemen'. They don't say 'white police' as is the standard when a white offends a Black.

    This could just be someone overlooking things, but it sure seems strange in an era where a cop who writes a ticket gets their race recorded. Just in case there's an 'imbalance'.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Yep yep yep

    I noticed that too. Something doesn't fit The Narrative.

  • Weygand||

    Since where are Takis a food of our countrymen with a darker skin tone? Maybe with Americans of Latin American descent but I don't associate them with Americans who are black.

    Also, it's derogatory to assume that Americans who are black would resort to going to Popeye's when their grandmothers all make better tasting fried chicken. I will never forget the fried chicken that a college teammate's grandmother made. To this day, I swear I have never tasted better than what she made. Never.

    My son goes to Spanish Immersion and they *fucking* love Takis. It's like Curry with those little squids. They are always on the hunt for spicier ones.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Also, it's derogatory to assume that Americans who are black would resort to going to Popeye's when their grandmothers all make better tasting fried chicken.

    This. The most offensive about this tree is the idea that any self respecting black man would buy fried chicken from a restaurant.

  • Mongo||

    A popular kiddie rap song out of the neighborhood where this precinct is located is called Hot Cheetos and Takis.

  • Sigivald||

    Takis are a black thing, somewhere?

    Around here they seem to be marketed at Hispanic people, to absolutely nobody's surprise - Chili lime? Guacamole? Fajita?

  • DiegoF||

    I hope someone uncovers a Latino-mocking tree at some point in this age of Twitter outrage. I want to see what is on it. Pork rinds, malt soda, of course. But let's get creative here.

  • Vernon Depner||

    Hair nets.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    A pinata instead of a star on the top, little sombreros, jalapeno peppers, and marijuana joints as decorations, bullet bandoliers instead of tinsel garland.

    And underneath the tree instead of toys and other "traditional" Christmas presents, leaf blowers, weed eaters, and various other lawn care tools.

  • ||

    bullet bandoliers instead of tinsel garland.

    The garland would be the family name in gothic lettering.

  • Ship of Theseus||

    What if a black cop put all that stuff on the tree... because he likes that stuff? hmmm

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Two Minneapolis police officers apparently thought it would be funny to decorate the Fourth Precinct Christmas tree with items often stereotypically associated with African Americans. The decorations included a cup from Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, empty bags of Funyuns and Takis tortialla chips, two Newport cigarettes containers, and malt liquor cans:

    Funyuns and Takis tortilla chips are "stereotypically associated with African Americans?" Huh. Learn something new everyday.

  • DiegoF||

    Looks to me like some cops--perhaps gradually one at a time when they saw other things there--took some trash found in front of the precinct, or left in the waiting area, or on suspects they apprehended, and started putting them on the tree for a larf. Some could be interpreted as "black," some as "Latino," some as just "poor." Perhaps the in-joke, which I do think is more likely than not being made, is more "natives" as seen by "stationed troops" than anything else. As with so much else in cops-versus-civilians interactions and the mentality behind it, maybe there is clarity to be had in taking a slightly wider perspective than race and race alone, even when race does seem to color things to some extent.

  • Echospinner||

    Probably true. Don't know how it got to be a news article. Simple thing. The boss just says "OK take this stuff off. I want to see the tree with proper regular decorations by the end of the day". Problem solved.

  • Vernon Depner||

    That would require a government manager to make a decision and give an order. They are trained never to do that. Taking responsibility for a decision puts their careers in jeopardy. They leave that up to judges whenever possible. Just look at how they had to backpedal on firing the officers responsible.

  • Rich||

    a cup from Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, empty bags of Funyuns and Takis tortialla chips, two Newport cigarettes containers, and malt liquor cans

    and a watermelon in a pear treeeeeeee!

  • Skyhawk||

    It was also repoted thay someone had removed the work boots ornament.

  • DiegoF||

    As long as they keep the do-rag at the top of the tree. I'm a traditionalist.

  • Agammamon||

    'Work boots?! Way to ruin the stereotype, guys.'

  • loveconstitution1789||

    North Dakota tried to use forklift to kill Trump

    I wonder why we never heard much from the media or Reason about this guy or his political affiliation?

    Not national news like a Minnesota police Christmas tree.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    *North Dakota man that is...

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Racist or not, it is still tacky and rude and unprofessional. What is humorous about putting literal garbage as ornaments on a Christmas tree?

  • Bob2||

    Keep it up with the "tacky and rude and unprofessional" and the FOP may well sue you for definition of character.

  • Trigger Warning||

    What if they had decorated with empty bags of organic, fair-trade, non-GMO blue corn chips, Elvis Costello vinyls, and a bust of Freddie Mercury?

  • Fats of Fury||

    Maybe it was a Kwaanza bush?

  • Vernon Depner||

    Isn't Kwaanza Bush a rapper?

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