St. Paul police union says it never meant to 're-victimize' Melvin Carter

But they're offended that Melvin Carter's campaign said the criticism was about race.

The president of St. Paul's police union has apologized for this week's letter criticizing a mayoral candidate who had two handguns stolen from his home this summer. 

But while the St. Paul Police Federation says it did not mean to revictimize Melvin Carter III, it takes offense at the suggestion that the police department is racist. 

The letter criticizing Carter 

Back in August someone broke into Carter's home and stole items including two handguns and some ammunition. 

On Tuesday the police union, which is campaigning for one of Carter's opponents, released an open letter slamming the former city council member over the crime.

A union official said Carter had "decided not to cooperate with investigators" because he had failed to provide serial numbers for the stolen guns. 

The letter said St. Paul voters deserve answers to questions such as how Carter got the guns, where they were stored, and whether he had taken a gun safety course. 

Response to the letter

In a September essay published in the Pioneer Press Carter wrote that the stolen guns had been used by his father during a 28-year career as one of St. Paul's first black police officers. 

Carter wrote that the guns were kept in a locked box and were two of his most prized possessions and said their theft was heartbreaking. 

After the Police Federation's letter came out on Tuesday Carter's campaign issued its own statement, saying the letter shows that people of color are presumed guilty by St. Paul police, MPR News reported

"The idea that a victim of a crime could become the accused based solely on the color of their skin is exactly why police culture needs to change," the campaign said. 

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, who is not running for re-election, was also critical of the union's letter. 

The Star Tribune says Coleman called it a Trump-style attack that does a disservice to the police department, adding: “For any member of the St. Paul Police Federation to attack a crime victim for political advantage is not in-keeping with the best traditions of our city.”

The union apologizes – and takes offense 

Wednesday's follow-up statement from Police Federation President Dave Titus consisted of just three sentences, the Pioneer Press reports: 

“Melvin Carter’s campaign has asserted that the amazing men and women of the St. Paul police department are racists. This is something we categorically deny and find offensive. The intent of our letter yesterday was in no way to revictimize the Carter family and for that we apologize.” 

Pat Harris, the mayoral candidate backed by the police union, told the newspaper he was not involved in this week's letter. 

A 24-year-old man was charged last week in connection with the break-in at Carter's home, MPR says, but the stolen guns have not been recovered.

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