The head of the Minneapolis Police Officer’s Federation has claimed that activists from the city’s Black Lives Matter movement comprises a “terrorist organization.” But a closer look at Lieutenant Bob Kroll’s record indicates that he is the one who poses a danger to the public, with a past marred in accusations of racist violence and attitudes, including charges from fellow police officers that he once wore a “white power” badge on his motorcycle jacket.
Kroll’s outrageous statement about local civil rights protesters is part of a wider of pattern of incorporating war on terror-style rhetoric to demonize local African-American activists and politicians, even comparing them to the Islamic extremists who attacked the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Such devices have also been routinely used across the country to criminalize Muslim-American communities, which face arbitrary surveillance, profiling and entrapment at the hands of law enforcement authorities.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Kroll described Black Lives Matter as a band of terrorists. He made the remarks in reference to public outrage and protest over white police officers’ killing of unarmed 24-year-old African-American man Jamar Clark on November 15, 2015. Clark was shot by police in the head while, according to several witnesses, he was handcuffed. The Department of Justice announcement on Wednesday that it will not bring civil rights charges against the officers involved, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze.
For the community members who have organized ongoing demonstration including a weeks-long occupation outside the fourth precinct last year before they were violently evicted by police, the Justice Department’s announcement was a painful one. But what came next from Kroll, they said, is downright dangerous.
Kroll exploited the Justice Department’s decision on Wednesday to blame Clark—who is not alive to defend himself—for his own killing. He stated: “Jamar Clark dictated the circumstances that night.” Kroll then trashed the “Justice for Jamar” movement, declaring: “I don’t see Black Lives Matter as a voice for the black community in Minneapolis.” Finally, he smeared the protesters as terrorists and implied they caused damage to the precinct and police officers’ property.