Mpls. Officers' 'Extremely Hateful' Slurs Prompt Call to Resign

Updated: 07/31/2013 7:14 AM By: Mark Albert

The fallout over what appeared to be racial and sexual slurs by two Minneapolis Police officers caught on videotape outside a Wisconsin bar continued to grow Monday, as the first city official went public with a call for the pair to resign and their own chief, the target of one of their slurs, apologized to the black and gay communities in Minneapolis and police officers in Green Bay.

"I'm incredibly disappointed," Minneapolis police Chief Janee Harteau said in her first interview since the officers, identified by sources as Shawn Powell and Brian Thole, were placed on leave late last week. "It is atrocious. And it's not conduct becoming a Minneapolis police officer. So it is very disappointing."

To the African-American community, as well as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people, Chief Harteau, herself openly gay and part Native American, said that "for those communities, I'm incredibly sorry," about the insults.

"I'm sure a lot of people were offended by that and I was offended for them. For me personally, I can't take offense to things people call me because it's part of my job, unfortunately, and it's part of being a police chief," Harteau said.

Also on Monday, the chairman of the Minneapolis City Council's Public Safety committee, which conducts oversight of the police department, became the first city official to publicly call for Ofcs. Powell and Thole to leave the force.

"I want them to resign now," declared Don Samuels, who is also running for mayor. "I want them to understand that they're misfits in the Minneapolis Police department and they should voluntarily spare us the trouble of an investigation," he said.

"The words used by these officers are intolerable, extremely hateful, and show that they cannot honorably serve and protect every resident of Minneapolis, especially those in the LGBT and African-American communities," Samuels said during an early evening news conference.

Fellow council member Cam Gordon, the vice chair of the Public Safety committee, said he would "absolutely" call on the police department to provide more cultural sensitivity training to all officers in the wake of the Green Bay incident, which he described as a "major setback."

"I have already been asking about that," Gordon said in an interview in his City Hall office Monday.

Gordon said he hopes an "equity toolkit" under development by the city coordinator will increase diversity and tolerance among all city employees, turning the videotaped comments of the two officers into a lesson to build on.

"It does maybe help in some ways to motivate us to do more and to realize that vestiges and the legacy of racism is probably lingering on in this society at deeper levels than we're even aware of," Gordon said.