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Differences resolved, police go back to work at Lynx games

July 16,2016 05:21

Police officers who provide private security at Minnesota Lynx games were back on the job Friday night after settling their differences with the women's professional basketball team, the head of the Minneapolis police union said. “It's all been ...and more »



Police officers who provide private security at Minnesota Lynx games were back on the job Friday night after settling their differences with the women’s professional basketball team, the head of the Minneapolis police union said.

“It’s all been resolved for the better for both sides,” said Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis. “I can confirm they have worked it out. It’s all good between them.”

The rift began when four off-duty officers working the July 9 game at Target Center walked off after taking offense at warm-up jerseys players wore that showed support for Black Lives Matter and victims of recent high-profile shootings in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights and Dallas.

Some members of the defending WNBA champions also spoke out about racial profiling in a pregame news conference in which they wore the shirts that read “Change Starts With Us, Justice and Accountability” and the names of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, two black men recently shot by police. A logo of the Dallas Police Department, which had five officers killed during a protest, also appeared on the shirt.

Officers were on duty for Friday’s 7 p.m. game against the New York Liberty.

Kroll did not elaborate on how the two sides found common ground and said he’d leave that to the officers and the team to discuss.

A spokeswoman for the Lynx declined to comment, referring inquiries about security staffing to Target Center management.

Sandy Sweetser, senior director of marketing and event services for Target Center, said the game Friday was staffed like any other Minnesota Lynx game with staff and contract security and Minneapolis police.

“The MPD is an important part of the arena’s overall event safety strategy and our security department will continue to work closely with them as has always been the case,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Police Chief Janeé Harteau, who said she had not been directly informed of the officers’ decision to return to working security for the Lynx, said, “Any time people can come to a mutual agreement, it’s a good thing.”

She declined to comment further.

The flap grew more controversial after Kroll commended the officers for quitting and then took a shot at the team, saying it had “pathetic” attendance.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges blasted Kroll’s “jackass remarks,” and Harteau criticized the officers for walking off a job.

The episode galvanized the fan base and led members of Black Lives Matter to organize a “Stand With the Lynx” event for Friday’s game.

“The Minnesota Lynx took a stand for change and were insulted in return. Let’s fill their stadium this Friday,” a posting on the event’s Facebook page said.

Supporters of the team also were attempting to rally Lynx fans on social media to attend a July 22 game against the Seattle Storm at 7 p.m. at Target Center, which they were informally calling “Kroll depreciation night.”

During the week, Kroll backed off his original comments and wished the team well.

“I never had any ill will toward the organization to begin with,” Kroll said Friday. “I hope the team sells out the rest of the year due to this mess.”

 

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