Labor groups call for Bob Kroll to resign from Minneapolis police union

"He antagonizes and disparages members of the black community," Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy said.
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More and more people and groups are calling for Bob Kroll, the president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, to step down, including labor groups Education Minnesota, the Minnesota Nurses Association and the Minnesota AFL-CIO.

Kroll, who has been with the Minneapolis Police Department for more than 30 years and president of the union for about five years, sent a letter this week to officers, commending them for their work during the protests, defending the officers at the scene when George Floyd was killed and blasting leadership for how they handled the protests and riots in the days following Floyd's death.

The letter prompted people to tweet their thoughts about Kroll, some using the hashtag #KrollMustGo. And a few labor organizations in the state are now calling for Kroll to resign. 

Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy in a news release Tuesday called for Kroll's immediate resignation, saying he has failed the labor movement of people in Minneapolis, noting he has a "long history of bigoted remarks and complaints of violence made against him." 

"As union president, he antagonizes and disparages members of the black community. He advocates for military-style police tactics making communities less safe and the police force more deadly. Despite his conduct, Kroll was reelected with an overwhelming majority. If Bob Kroll does not value the lives that he is sworn to protect, then we can only expect more death under his leadership," McCarthy said.

Minnesota AFL-CIO is the state federation of labor that represents more than 300,000 members of more than 1,000 local unions throughout the state.

Education Minnesota, which represents the state's educators and education professionals, said in a news release it is joining Minnesota AFL-CIO in calling for Kroll to resign. President of the union, Denise Specht, said Kroll must resign or be removed by his membership for the city to heal from the "horrific killing" of George Floyd in police custody. 

“Educators and other members of organized labor are committed to seeking racial justice,” Specht said. “There is no place for leaders who support or defend racist actions and policies in our movement. Through his actions and words, Lt. Kroll has shown himself unfit to lead in the modern labor movement.”

The Minnesota Nurses Association also released a statement asking for Kroll to resign, saying, "Kroll continues to minimize the killing of unarmed black citizens by officers and promote symbols of 'white power' within the department. This behavior is not acceptable from any leader, much less the leader of a union.

Meanwhile, members of the Minneapolis City Council have criticized Kroll. 

Melissa Hortman, the speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives, also called for him to step down.

And there's a petition calling for his resignation that has garnered signatures from more than 61,000 people as of Wednesday morning.

This isn't anything new for Kroll. In 2015, the Star Tribune wrote a story about how controversy follows the federation president, in the aftermath of the Minneapolis Police Department 4th Precinct occupation in reaction to the killing at the hands of police of Jamar Clark.

Such controversy is rearing its head again due to an interview Kroll did in April with STIM Radio, which was reported on by The Intercept this week. The interview was posted to YouTube – have a listen:

In the interview, he discusses things from PTSD and "locking horns" with politicians in Minneapolis to the city's budget and making reductions during COVID-19, in which he says the city is "pissing away" money, like giving $15,000 a year to the transgender coordinator of the city. 

He also criticizes the city for paying out in police brutality lawsuits, suggesting police shouldn't be responsible for the settlements, calling some of the lawsuits frivolous.

“You’re giving away money left and right in lawsuits, and you want us to take a bath? So forget it,” Kroll said in the interview.

As of Wednesday morning, the federation's website and Facebook page could not be accessed.

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