Brooklyn Center ponders removal of ex-sheriff's name amid alleged KKK links

The former sheriff's name is used on several city buildings and sites.

Brooklyn Center is considering removing the name of one of its most well-known residents from buildings, streets, and even its annual festival amid a re-assessment of his alleged racist links.

At a city council work session last week, members discussed the potential removal of former Hennepin County Sheriff Earle Brown's name from city landmarks just a few weeks after the city's school board voted to rename the Earle Brown Elementary School as Brooklyn Center Elementary School.

The spark for the name change emerged from a 2013 book entitled The Ku Klux Klan in Minnesota by Elizabeth Dorsey Hatler, in which it's alleged that Brown was initiated into the KKK in 1923, though it's noted that another scholar disputes this claim having read Brown's diaries.

Brown died in 1963 and among other things is credited with founding the Minnesota State Highway Patrol.

His name is prominent in Brooklyn Center, and is used for Earle Brown Drive, the Earle Brown Heritage Center, and the annual Earle Brown Days Festival.

It comes amid a wider movement nationally to address landmarks, buildings and statues that honor historic figures with links to racism and slavery in the wake of George Floyd's death.

This was most prominently seen in Minneapolis, where Lake Calhoun was restored to its original Dakota name of Bde Maka Ska, with several businesses, streets and buildings nearby following suit, because of John C. Calhoun's support for slavery.

CCX Media reports that most Brooklyn Center City Council members are open to removing Brown's name from city locations, with Mayor Mike Elliott planning to set up a meeting with Hatler to discuss her findings about Brown's supposed KKK links.

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Celebrations cut short in Brooklyn Center

The Earle Brown Heritage Center was evacuated Saturday night after police received a bomb threat. The convention center was hosting two weddings and a prom. Investigators didn't find anything suspicious. They're now looking into whether the prank was tied to any of the events at the center.