Protesters who held a demonstration outside the home of Minneapolis police union chief Bob Kroll and his wife, WCCO reporter Liz Collin, have been condemned by some Twin Cities media members and state lawmakers after video showed them destroying a piñata of Collin's likeness.
The video from Saturday's protest came to wider attention of the Twin Cities media when it was shared by former Minnesota GOP Deputy Chair Michael Brodkorb on Monday, showing piñatas of both Collin and Kroll being destroyed outside their Hugo home.
Kroll has been the subject of numerous protests since the death of George Floyd, with activists seeing his tenure as the head of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis as a barrier to addressing systemic problems within Minneapolis Police Department.
But Collin has also been the subject of protest outside WCCO's office in downtown Minneapolis, with activists criticizing the station for both her marriage to Kroll and her involvement in stories concerning the police, claiming it's a conflict of interests.
The writing on the back of the piñata was of a quote Collin herself gave in 2019, in which she noted she had not been involved in stories involving Minneapolis police or the union for the previous two years.
"Is it a conflict of interest for me to be a journalist married to the Minneapolis police union boss?" she said. "My answer: No."
BMTN reached out to WCCO on Monday for comment and has yet to hear anything back, but WCCO anchor Jason DeRusha did criticize the action on his Twitter page.
"Protest. Complain. Advocate. Speak out. Picket my station again! But making a piñata out of a journalist and beating it is disgusting, offensive and sad. This is where we are? That all of these intelligent people thought this was ok?" he said.
Numerous other Twin Cities media personalities have condemned the targeting of Collin, with FOX 9's Karen Scullin tweeting: "There is a limit. There is a line. This s not okay."
WCCO-AM's Cory Hepola said: "People are (rightfully) upset. People (rightfully) want major reform at MPLS Police. People are (rightfully) tired & fed up. But, symbolically beating up a woman journalist isn’t a solution. It’s a disgusting act that’s only going to alienate anyone willing to listen or help."
DFL Sen. Karla Bingham joined the criticism, saying: "No member of the media should be physically threatened or intimidated. Period. End of story. Doesn’t matter the reason. Not appropriate."
The protest was organized by the Racial Justice Network, and not Black Lives Matter as has been widely reported by Twin Cities media. The Racial Justice Network is a grassroots organization which is led by Twin Cities activist Nekima Levy-Armstrong.
In response to the criticism over the Collin piñata, she had this to say on Twitter:
Other activists argued that the criticism for Collin isn't due to her job as a journalist, but due to her marriage to Kroll.
"I'm arguing Collins is a part and tacit public supporter of the politics of Kroll by choice, she doesn't receive special dispensation from a particular public disdain because she is a journalist," wrote filmmaker D.A. Bullock in response to DeRusha. "She certainly doesn't earn some requirement of the public to ignore who she married."
Also being criticized for his involvement on Saturday is John Thompson, a DFLer who is standing in House District 67A in St. Paul.
He was among those wearing a shirt saying "Bob KKKroll Must Go!" and among other things, said the following into a megaphone: "You think we give a [expletive] about burning Hugo down?”and also "[Expletive] Hugo."
On Monday, the Washington County Sheriff's Office said that despite Thompson's "divisive, hurtful and inflammatory rhetoric," there is no action it can take.
"After investigation, the comments made by Mr. Thompson, though grossly inappropriate, do not violate any felony statute," a spokesman said.
"We will continue further review of any other violations of state law or city ordinance, while allowing for First Amendment protected speech."