For months tensions within the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) have been building over internal issues due to actions of the VOTF unit (Violent Offenders Task Force) over the past six years.
This column first sounded the alert about VOTF and the conspiracy within the MPD to destroy Black officers and their Black Police Officers Association in 2007. I have written over 60 columns detailing the culture of the MPD since 2007, and over 100 since 2003, including my reporting on the implosion of the VOTF (once the pride of the department), columns detailing the internal corruption and the lawsuits against the department by Black police officers (see my July 14, 2008, Paper #31, updated May 2012, posted at www.theminneapolisstory.com/solutionpapers/31minncops.htm).
In December 2007, five African American officers — Arrodondo, Harris, Edwards, Adams, and Hamilton — filed suit in Federal District Court of Minnesota. In May 2009, the City settled for $750,000 for those five officers. Michael Keefe, a White lieutenant and one of the most respected police officers in law enforcement in the State of Minnesota, who broke the case wide open in early 2007, will shortly finally get his day in court.
It was Lt. Keefe who had been appointed commander of VOTF, after a distinguished career in the Homicide Unit, who called attention to the very questionable conduct of VOTF officers and of the conspiracy to end the careers of a number of Black officers, which then led to their attempt to end the career of Lt. Michael Keefe as well, in what has become the longest discovery process of a pending case in the Federal District Court of Minnesota.
Depositions taken have increased tension within the MPD. One of the examples of that tension took place over two weeks ago, at a going-away ceremony for the outgoing inspector of the First Precinct, who had been promoted to Deputy Chief of Patrol. Sgt. Pat King, one of the alleged ringleaders in VOTF’s undermining of African American officers and Lt. Michael Keefe, made an attempt to approach Lt. Keefe, who was an attendee at this ceremony.
Unbeknownst to Sgt. King, it now appears that a surveillance operation was being carried out at the ceremony, which may have included electronic intercepts and the wearing of a wire. It appears that someone within the federal system, with access to a website known as Pacer.com, has been delivering a blow-by-blow description of many activities, courtroom drama, Federal surveillance of law enforcement officers, and the discussion of statements given by former VOTF members.
It appears a number of law enforcement officers previously assigned to VOTF are attempting to head off federal prosecution, and to specifically head off having their questionable conduct revealed during the course of the trial involving Lt. Michael Keefe (who, as a result of his reporting, was demoted to sergeant), who is suing the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department.
Those providing information to Pacer.com obviously have deep knowledge of surveillance results going back at least to 2005 if not earlier, making for juicy listening, particularly when, according to reliable sources, it provides evidence of the conspiracy developed against African American officers in the department and the African American community in general.
This reflects a department out of control, a city administration giving aid and comfort to these actions, many of them illegal according, again, to the information being posted on Pacer.com. This situation has the Star Tribune shuddering, as they await a federal judge’s decision on whether or not to compel their reporter or reporters to reveal their sources of information that led to the destruction of the Black Police Officers Association and to the capping of then Lt. Michael Keefe’s career.
Federal sources indicate a decision may be forthcoming within the next 15 days, if not earlier. I am not surprised. In 2007, I filed a civil rights complaint on behalf of the Black officers and on behalf of Lt. Michael Keefe, complaints relevant to the violations of their civil rights by the VOTF, whose officers sabotaged them with malice aforethought.
The public has a right to know, especially the Black public, that this dark hallway of racial animus and corruption is still in existence. The public should insist on transparency and full disclosure regarding this dark episode that has seriously jeopardized future fairness regarding African American recruitment, hiring, and promotion within the MPD.
Columns referenced above are archived at www.theminneapolisstory.com/tocarchives.htm. Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers for community planning and development, “web log,” and archives at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.