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Minneapolis mayor promises to fire police officer over 'racist' Christmas tree

A picture of the tree was shared on social media Friday.
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(Updated 2:45 P.M. to include statement from Police Chief Medaria Arradondo)

Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey has promised to fire the person responsible for "racist" decorations placed on a Christmas tree displayed in the city's 4th Police Precinct.

Images of the tree have been shared on social media Friday morning, with city council member Phillipe Cunningham saying he was told by 4th Precinct Inspector Aaron Baird that an officer hung "inappropriate ornaments" as a "prank."

These ornaments, which have since been taken down, included packets of Takis and FunYuns chips, Newport cigarettes, a Popeye's Chicken cup and some police tape.

The Minneapolis 4th Precinct covers North Minneapolis, which is where the majority of Minneapolis' African American population lives.

Cunningham said that the officer responsible was "both disciplined and coached," but Mayor Frey has now said he will be fired before the day is out.

"This behavior is racist, despicable, and is well beneath the standards of any person who serves the city of Minneapolis," Frey said in a statement.

"The offending party will be fired before the day is over. Shifting the culture of the police department requires swift and decisive action. Termination is necessary – both to discipline the officer and to send a clear message: Chief Arradondo and I will not tolerate conduct that departs from our values."

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In a statement issued Friday afternoon, Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo said: "As was stated by many members of the community during the public hearing in front of the Public Safety Committee on Thursday, the culture of the Minneapolis Police Department has undergone positive change, however as this recent incident shows we still have much work ahead.

"Every day I work to bridge the divide between the police department and the community, as do so many others in our department. We will not stop our efforts of treating all those that we serve with fairness, dignity and respect. That manner of treatment is non-negotiable.

"I am ashamed and appalled by the behavior of those who would feel comfortable to act in such a manner that goes against our core department values of Trust, Accountability and Professional Service. I have initiated a full investigation and will make information public when possible in accordance with Minnesota State Statute."

Relations between the community and 4th Precinct have been strained in recent years. The precinct was notably the scene of an 18-day occupation in November 2015 following the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark by police.

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