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Still simmering online, bitter reality behind #pointergate settles in

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The laughs and rolled eyes after a local TV report said Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges was photographed displaying a gang sign were ubiquitous.

The KSTP report – which publicized a photo of Hodges posing with Navell Gordon during a canvassing event – spawned wisecracks on social media and riffs off of the "gang sign" claim, which many critics found preposterous.

But behind the immediate reaction, three groups – the mayor's office, the police union and a neighborhood organization – are dealing with the very real fallout.


Tweets like the ones below were almost unavoidable in the days that followed the report's airing.

And it's still going.

On Twitter, nearly five days after the KSTP report first aired, #pointergate is still the No. 2 trending topic in Minneapolis.

Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak offered his own, seemingly quite candid, take on Facebook over the weekend.

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Mayor's office, police union at odds?

But one report says there is more to the incident than the jokes let on.

The Star Tribune reports the back-and-forth reveals a significant schism between Hodges' office and the Minneapolis police officers' union, with former Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan telling the paper the union appears to be "not happy with some of the things that the mayor has said about the police department."

What has Hodges said recently?

In an open letter to Minneapolis residents Hodges posted on her blog last month, the mayor says "hundreds of police officers serve respectfully and collaboratively every day" to keep people and neighborhoods safe. But some "abuse the trust that is afforded to them, and take advantage of their roles to do harm rather than prevent it."

As a response, President of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis John Delmonico wrote an editorial in the Star Tribune that accused Hodges of "spreading misconceptions" about the Minneapolis police force and labeling all officers as part of a problematic culture.

In Tuesday's story, the paper says the frayed relationship between the first-term mayor and the city's protective force goes back even further – stretching to Hodges' tenure on the Minneapolis City Council and pension negotiations with the police union during that time.

NOC asks for apology

Meanwhile, the organization with whom Gordon was volunteering for at the time of the photo wants KSTP to apologize on-air for running the story in the first place.

In a statement posted Monday, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change calls the piece "outrageous and inflammatory," and says the station "takes Navell’s entire life and reduces him to 'convicted felon' in a leading news headline."

The station has since been the subject of national ridicule, but KSTP has defended the story in a statement, saying they had received similar comments from other people within Twin Cities police forces.

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