‘Gang sign’ story backfires on KSTP

(This post has been updated at 5:09 with a KSTP update, which is posted at the bottom of this page)

  1. Listen Bob Collins and All Things Considered host Tom Crann discuss today’s debate over the KSTP story

From the “Department of Are You Serious?” comes this from KSTP, which alleges that Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges knows a gang sign.

Photo: KSTP

The photo was taken a week before the November election while the mayor canvassed neighborhoods with a nonprofit group in a get-out-the-vote event. Hodges declined repeated requests for interviews. But, her spokesperson told us the mayor enjoys meeting with many people who are organizing on the North side.

The spokesperson also says the man in the photo is well regarded by the nonprofit that employs him and the mayor is simply “pointing at him” in the photo. Retired Minneapolis Police officer, Michael Quinn, who also managed the department’s Internal Affairs Unit, says the photo is “disappointing because it puts police officers at risk.”

When asked to respond to the mayor’s statement that she is just “pointing at him.” He said, “she can’t be that naive. I cannot imagine.”

“She is legitimizing these people. She is legitimizing gangs who are killing our children in Minneapolis and I just can’t believe it. It hurts,” Quinn said.

Quinn says law enforcement agencies are “going to be pissed about this. They’re going to be angry and they should be.”

“A gang sign?” one commenter notes on the KSTP website, in a barrage of heavy criticism of the ‘story.’ “They’re pointing to each other. The man in the photo is doing good by encouraging people to participate in our democratic process. He did wrong in the past, served his time, is trying to do right now and has to deal with this BS??? We’ve all made mistakes before, and we all deserve a second chance. Shame on KSTP for trying to take his second chance away from him. Terrible job, KSTP – your credibility has taken a hit.”

Hodges and Navell Gordon were actually door-knocking in a get-out-the-vote effort for Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. Its video shows the real story of people working for good, and exposes KSTP’s intention to gin up a story with racist overtones.

“I made some mistakes in life. I can’t vote, I’m not ashamed to say that,” Gordon says in the video. “I’m working on fixing that right now so I can be able to vote for my next president, do you understand?”

That has the aroma of a pretty good story.

Instead, reporter Jay Kolls saw it this way:

Which should surprise Minneapolis police chief Janeé Harteau who was with them. Harteau, it’s fair to say, probably knows the difference between a point and a gang sign.

Photo: Neighborhoods Organizing for Change.
  1. Listen Executive Director of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Anthony Newby, talks with The Daily Circuit’s Tom Weber about #pointergate

    Nov. 7, 2014

The station is getting condemned on social media, which has created the #pointergate hashtag.

For his part, reporter Kolls is unrepentant:

On her Star Tribune blog, Nekima Levy-Pounds calls out KSTP:

Because of the Mayor’s willingness to reach into the community and build connections, she too, was labeled in a similar manner and accused of having gang affiliations. I posit, another reason the Mayor was targeted in the story is the fact that she has demonstrated courage by speaking publicly about much-needed reforms within the Minneapolis Police Department, including the body-cam pilot project that is being rolled out today. Resistance to change comes in many forms, and sadly this is one of the worst examples of such resistance. The young man in the photo was merely a convenient scapegoat for a larger agenda.

The constant portrayal of young black men as gangsters, thugs, and criminals can be seen nearly every night on the news or in newspapers in Minnesota and around the country. Undoubtedly these negative perceptions contributed to the untimely deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Jordan Davis, and countless other victims. The daily replaying of the narrative of blackness as evil, dangerous, and in the case of Mayor Hodges, contagious, has a cumulative effect on the American psyche and permanently warps our perceptions of the “other.” Indeed, nary can many of us walk past a young African American man without a whole host of racial stereotypes, prejudices, and fears coming to the surface.

Update 11:31 a.m. – On its website, KSTP has now posted this statement:

That’s some serious “doubling down,” and highly questionable ethics since the decision to blur the gentleman’s face and not reveal anything about the organization is what denied the context, thus revealing the scantilly clad nature of the KSTP story in the first place.

What KSTP had was a picture without context and some cops who had a picture without context, and that was enough for KSTP to create the story.

That’s the problem that people have been trying to point out today, KSTP.

They’ve painted the picture for you.

Update 5:07 p.m. KSTP “triples-down” with a justification that everyone has missed the point.

Law enforcement agencies say the criticism of the photo of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges making what they call a gang sign with a convicted felon misses the point.
Michael Quinn, who spent more than 30 years in law enforcement, including 25 years with Minneapolis Police, says the photo is not about race, or police being “alarmists.”
Quinn says he does not believe Mayor Hodges endorses gangs and says she “probably didn’t even know what the hand gesture meant.”

But, he says, it sends a bad message and it is the perception it creates that makes the job of investigating gangs and ending the violence more difficult.
Quinn says the gesture is a “known gang sign of one of the most violent gangs in Minneapolis and they will use this to their advantage.”

Quinn says there is a reason the man posted the photo on his web site and he says “there could be another gang that would take it as a show of disrespect and commit another crime to solve the dispute.”
What the general public does not understand, Quinn says, “is the signs have real meaning on the street and gangs take them seriously and people have died for simply flashing a gang sign. That’s all we are saying. This is serious and can lead to serious consequences.”

The Mayor and the photo with the man was taken at a get-out-the-vote event over a week ago.

So the sign was a message to gangs? If so, it’s a message that was spread thanks to the Minneapolis police union and KSTP spreading it.

That’s less plausible than another possibility: The police union is paying the mayor back for her claim in a letter to Minneapolis residents last month that there are some bad apples in the Minneapolis police department, a claim that brought a vitriolic response from one of the people quoted in the KSTP story.

Your words and actions do not support your purported goal of improving the relationship between police and communities. Accepting and spreading misperceptions about your Police Department fuels the flames — it does not extinguish them. No amount of effort by officers or expenditure of taxpayers’ money for cameras or other gadgetry will improve the relationship between officers and communities when elected officials repeatedly undermine those efforts by perpetuating mythology in those communities for their own political aggrandizement.

More information: Explaining #pointergate: The missing context (Minnesota Public Radio News).

  • Jack

    “Gotta think about the future” – totally agree.

  • Robert Moffitt
    • John O.

      It might also be helpful for Kolls to avoid the “Tweet” button on Twitter for a while too. Some of his replies aren’t exactly flattering or professional, IMHO. Just a thought.

      • Paul Comeau

        Yeah I went and looked.. oh boy. He (like many others) needs to be reminded that being flippant in a text conversation never really works (unless you have a full column/blog to set it up).

        • John O.

          Kinda makes you wonder what the Hubbard social media policy is.

          • raflw

            We know what the Hubbard political giving policy is.

            Hint: It’s not the party of the mayor…

          • Dave

            It would be easy to try and connect the guy’s political leanings with a racist story, but to me, this is simply good old craptastic journalism. I really doubt there’s any conspiracy. Still, how many page views and ad impressions do you suppose KSTP got? There is no such thing as bad publicity, right?

          • ceeza

            have you read his twitter feed? you may reconsider your position.

          • Dave

            Yeah. It’s pretty terrible. I noticed he stopped about 12 hours ago. I guess the hole was so deep he couldn’t throw the dirt out of it.

          • yep..don’t mess with the Twitter…he’s been buried.

          • Touchstone Farm

            Too bad he works for Hubbard. He should be fired, but instead he’ll probably get a raise.

          • raflw

            I don’t think it’s a conspiracy, but newsrooms (and all work environments) have ethos. KSTP is the most conservative, law-and-order of the networks, and that reflects Stanley Hubbard and his family, I believe.

            It has also been well reported that Hubbard Broadcasting has given in well into six figures to conservative PACs. Not just the Hubbard family, but Hubbard Broadcasting as a corporation.

          • Batgirl

            Corporations are PEOPLE.

          • Jason Volde

            Yeah, I thought everyone knew that 😉

          • Kar Nels

            Police know well how to use their muscle and attack people court of public opinion. They are an amazing PR machine, but it’s not difficult when you can routinely get local media to breathlessly report any outlandish, fear-mongering thing you say.

          • JonathanNathan

            I’m just really glad that you’re using that picture as your avatar.

          • Kar Nels

            No, I’ve seen this too often before just to say it’s lazy, crappy journalism. This type of reporting any crazy things the cops say has a long tradition with local news stations, including 30 and 40 years ago when these stations were drowning in ad dollars. There are always some reporters that are totally on the cops team and will report what ever cover story or lies the police federation feeds them to keep their jobs and keep their bosses in check. This is why most police federations own Mayors. I don’t think Hodges is remotely any kind of revolutionary on policing, but her just

          • BarBo

            Your use of the word “lazy” and “crappy” are spot on, but the word “journalism” doesn’t seem to apply to the story at all. KSTP is no longer a news station. Not even sure what it is now.

          • Zach Q

            Maybe they saw how successful the Daily Show is and thought they’d try that approach?

          • HardDriver

            Kind of similar/exactly, like “Faux News”.

          • K.C. Knack

            The word that replaces journalism that you are looking for is Propaganda.

      • Ibby

        If ABC has any remotely competent people on their PR team, this guy will be out of a job soon.

    • DavidG

      The NOC has also apparently complained of excessive use of force by a police officer against one of their canvassers.

      • Matthew St-Germain

        A response on Mr. Kolls twitter feed alleges it is in fact the pointing gentlemen in question that was harassed by the police. Mr. Kolls claims this man was arrested three weeks ago, without so much as any proof, and that was the response.

        • kwd

          He was arrested in September. Look it up. But here’s the thing – it doesn’t help the police department’s (or Kolls’) case. Gordon was arrested and roughed up while out gathering signatures for a petition to restore voting rights to felons. This “pointer gate” nonsense dovetails nicely with the suspicions that not only does the PD have a vendetta against their Mayor, but they’re also out to get Gordon.

    • kcmarshall

      Not sure about the muzzles but I agree that the real story here is the relationship between the police, North Mpls and the Mayor.

    • pete

      It’s the same individual in both stories. Good find.

      • Prince Ali

        Here is a video shot post the arrest of Gordon.

    • Ron Fresquez

      For some members of the MPD a muzzle is not enough. They should be kicked out of the force because of their overlord mentality.

  • Beth-Ann Bloom

    Hope this stupid story helps Minnesotans get the point…..consider the source and the context before jumping to conclusions!

    • HardDriver

      Beth-Ann Bloom, you really think the people “out there” are intelligent, or unbiased enough, to catch the underlying tones of this story? I don’t hold out much hope for that result.

  • Paul Weimer

    This story is making my friends from across the country reconsider our sanity and well being. Great job, KSTP. Make us look like idjits

    • Dave

      If your friends know anything about the state of local TV news everywhere, they won’t judge you at all.

      • Ibby

        Being a local subsidiary doesn’t excuse this level of trash. If ABC cares about their reputation as a station at all, they should be stepping in.

        • Dave

          I agree, although I don’t know how much control ABC exerts over local stories done by local reporters. It’s not as though this story was approved by someone at ABC in New York or something.

          • Ibby

            No, but when you put your name on something, you should be concerned about how your brand is being represented. If you go to the KSTP website where the article appears, it says ABC at the top – that both tarnishes ABC’s reputation and helps lend the station undeserved credibility. ABC can either tell the local station to get their shit together, or pull the business relationship.

          • And don’t forget Disney, who owns ABC. Is this really the kind of “journalism” that ABC and Disney want to be known for?

          • HardDriver

            ABC should suggest this “news organization/TV station” change their affiliation to “Faux News”.

        • K.C. Knack

          You seem to be under the illusion that ABC is some sort of paragon of journalism. They, as nearly all major “news” organizations have been totally compromised by corporate power and money.

          • Ibby

            Not under that illusion at all. But they’re a big name, and even these corrupt “news” organizations need to pay *some* sliver of attention to public opinion. When your subsidiary runs a story that is uncontroversially stupid, the smart *business* decision would be to step in or drop the business relationship. Even corrupt organizations make decisions in their own interests.

  • Bryan

    Ironic that if you go to kstp.com right now (8:15 a.m. Friday, November 7) that the page reverts to a previous page from about October 15. No embarrassment from their story at all.

    • Touchstone Farm

      Hopefully people keep posting and don’t give it a rest. Between the father being arrested by the police while he waited for his children to get out of school, to this…I’m thinking the Twin Cities aren’t anything like they use to be when I lived there. Thought it was a nice and progressive community…but apparently not when you look at their police department or KSTP.

  • MikeB

    We’ve all seen that media fear mongering works well.

  • Chris

    It really is a remarkable story and kind of emblematic of a transition going on in our country where aging white males more and more have to share power with non white and non males…some of them aren’t handling it very well (see Fox News viewership demographics). The best part is Kolls doubling down because that’s what fact free faith based types do on a variety of topics from tax cuts to global warming. Also, something this thin might have floated a few years ago, but now it can be torn apart and rebutted so fast by so many.

    • Chris

      I am not the Chris who is commenting below (not that it matters).

  • When things like this happen at KSTP (when they try to out-FOX FOX News), my first question is why Hubbard still uses Frank Magjid as their consultant. It’s been a revolving door there, at Ch. 5, for … ever. I’m also disappointed that Jay Kolls falls for this sort of stuff. Darn.

    • David Greene

      Jay Kolls has a long history of hit pieces. This is his MO.

  • JB in MPLS

    Thanks for the mash up blog post Bob, it reads a bit like the Daily Show, some description, some satire and final and complete Takedown at the end. Keep it up!

  • Jeff

    Unbelievable. If you watch the video of the photo (35 seconds into the video) it is clear that the mayor pointed at the man first and than he copied her.

  • raflw

    So has the News Director at KSTP been contacted? A major package like that story, with web site front page companion and such, has to go through an editor and the news director. The entire news management process is part of this story now.

    Will management respond? The reporter went on an angry tirade on Twitter last night, and in addition to the story itself being absurd, he behaved entirely unprofessionally in his outbursts.

    • Ibby

      Do they even have a News Director?? Since this shitstorm, KSTP has published, not one, but two articles “tripling down” on their position. By different “reporters.” It’s time to contact the mothership and start pressuring ABC to get their affiliates potty trained.

  • Fun Fact: 94% of KSTP viewers are currently offering somebody hard candy.

  • John Vincent

    My first question when I see this sort of stuff from KSTP, is “is someone trying to be political? Or is this just the vanilla sensational reporting we’ve come to expect from KSTP?”

    My guess is that someone confused chatter on a right-leaning radio station with facts — and ran with a sensational story. It’s not the Smiley Face Killer sort of irresponsibility, but it is sensational.

    The station owners, the Hubbard family, is solidly, and not quietly, conservative — but they’re smart enough to not ask the staff for anything like slanted reporting. But that wouldn’t stop some apple-polishing staffer from trying to do a story that they think the bosses would like. Nor would it prevent any of the several layers of gatekeepers that should have stopped this nonsense from stopping this nonsense.

    • Kassie

      Bringing up the Smiley Face Killer? You are my hero!

    • Kar Nels

      No, they got the story straight from Police federation and a retired cop. Of course, they reported it without investigating it because the cops told them to.

  • ceeza

    https://twitter.com/Beymonce/status/530673395147759617/photo/1 this thread on his twitter is unbelievable. *click on the mugshot*. he really is a scumbag..

    • Dan Voltz

      I don’t know that making ad hominem arguments is really the way to maintain the moral high ground, though. In fact, when it’s more effective to have a conversation about the systemic problem of race and news media, it’s almost self-defeating to make it about one guy.

      • Dave

        Not precisely an ad hominem though.

        • Dan Voltz

          Sure it is. It’s attacking the person (the reporter’s DUI… in 2007) instead of engaging with the argument (in this case, the report on KSTP in 2014, which was not about drunk driving).

          • Dave

            I’m just saying that the story is no longer about the article. It’s about the reporter now. Isn’t there some creed in journalism that says “don’t become the news?”

          • Not really.


            To me, one of the failures here is to miss a really good story — the kid who’s a felon, can’t vote, is turning his life around and trying to improve his community in the face of unbelievable odds stacked against him.

            That’s a hell of a story. I don’t know how somebody who gives a damn missed it.

            Sure wish I’d known about it.

          • Dave

            Not to mention the mayor doing some superb community outreach and engagement.

          • Sean Olsen

            Or there’s a story about why certain members of the police department are trying to smear the Mayor.

          • Maybe this might be why they’re trying to smear the mayor:


          • It goes back to July when Al Flowers got roughed up. This is part of that.

          • Eric Goebelbecker

            There might be such a creed in journalism. But I guess only journalists follow it.

            Kolls was quite busy on twitter earlier making himself part of the story and, as a few people pointed out there, throwing out a lot of “facts” that didn’t make it into the paper. For example, the ad hominem is in response to an assertion that the “gang sign” is for a specific gang in the area that has “killed people.”

          • ceeza

            Don’t think you know what ad hominem means.. First off I was talking about HIS tweets and HIS words.. He was engaging people completely unprofessionally after he received push back.. So yeah he is kind of a part of the story. his motivations and competence should be questioned as well.. His tweets prove that.. And as for the DUI, I do find it ironic that he calls people gangbangers, with no proof, when he isn’t exactly Mr. Clean..

          • Dave

            It even says in the video of the story that they have no evidence this man is part of a gang, but — and this is the really hard-hitting investigative part — “he has connections to known gang members.” Whatever that means.

          • ceeza

            correct. but then he tweeted this https://twitter.com/webster/status/530602073255972864/photo/1 “gang banger”

          • Dave

            that is a screenshot, but i couldn’t find the tweet. was it deleted?

            also, this:


          • ceeza
          • Dave


          • raflw

            I’m not supporting reposting his mugshot, but in context (oh, that!) on Twitter, it made some sort of sense:
            In Kolls’ blerts of tweeting last night, he was making the argument that the “gang sign” connected the mayor to a specific gang, and that gang has killed folks.
            Another tweeter replied that some drunk drivers kill.
            Is that a fair hit? Maybe not, but in the fast and loose twitterverse, fairly typical.
            I’d rather not have that bleed over to here at MPR. Let’s stick to the actual bad reporting and sensationalism of the KSTP crew.

      • ceeza

        I was specifically talking about the thread.. HIS words.. click on the picture to read the thread.. and that’s not even the worst one.

      • Matthew St-Germain

        Dan, it is in response to him saying gang-bangers kill people, as a reply to someone else on his twitter feed. Shoe fits.

  • Ezra Bennett

    *slow trombones.*

    Nice work, idiots. Rest assured KSTP is working hard to further the notion that old white folk are really good at pulling racial stereotypes out of their asses…if, of course, they can actually *find* them.

  • serenamg

    Damn you, Obama!!!

    • lilycarol


  • PayTheBest Official

    its not a gang sign… KSTP = idiots find a REAL story to tell. wait you just did.

  • sj

    OK folks. A test here. Drive around my neighborhood. Lowry, Fremont, Penn, 26th aves north. Do this sign at other cars or groups of individuals on the street. Come back with your findings. These signs aren’t a joke. Flash this in the wrong part of town, you may be dead.

    • That really doesn’t have anything to do with the story. The question is whether the context supports the conclusion that those in the story were flashing gang signs.

    • Jason Tanzman

      The point? Context matters. Anyone should be able to tell that the context of that “sign” was celebrating a freakin’ get out the vote effort! Geez. This is not complicated.

    • Kar Nels

      I’m sure little Betsy Hodges pointing at this kid during get out the vote drive infuriated some gang members and set off a war.

    • Bird Law

      And if you wear red or blue in certain neighborhoods, you could be in trouble. If Mayor Hodges is photographed wearing blue or red, is she promoting gang violence?

    • ByTor

      If you look at them the wrong way, or in the eye too long, you may be dead just the same. That doesn’t mean the Mayor was flashing gang signs. Your point?

  • Yusuf

    It is call a culture, demeaning others means a lack of tolerance and racism at best

  • Kattzen

    Jay Kolls has just lost all credibility for me.

  • Gexxr

    What’s worst, to my mind, is the fact that the KSTP and this reporter seem to have a desire to create conflict where none need be. Does anyone REALLY think the Mayor was flashing gang signs? Does anyone think anyone in a gang is encouraged by a video almost no one has seen in which a middle aged white woman flashes a gang sign? Do these former cops and this reporter actually think that somehow gangs and crime ACTUALLY got worse because Betsy Hodges pointed at someone?

    Let’s be real. These guys can fashion an argument that makes it sound like there is an issue here, but there isn’t one. Any reasonable viewing of the video would reveal their complaints to be a stretch of such proportions as to be considered an outright fabrication.

    Which makes the question of why they need to stir up acrimony between the mayor and the police department, while getting a healthy dose of plausibly deniable but tangible racism in, all the more important.

    There’s no story here. By making it a story, the story should become Kolls and KSTP and why they need to make the news.

    What a pathetic excuse for a news organization.

    • lilycarol

      Just took KSTP off my Roku menu.

    • Kar Nels

      Nailed it. This is such a horrible racist pattern on part of cops to use compliant, subservient local media to fan trumped fears and attack their perceived enemies in the court of public opinion. Police federations go offer anyone offering them even mild criticism, try to get them fired, keep them from getting elected.

  • Will Davis

    So why did KTSP blur his picture? Mountain out of a molehill

  • ericroded

    poor police. no wonder they keep tazing old black ladies in the back, shooting people in their raised forearms and the top of the head, chokeholding people to death for selling a cigarette, dishonoring their badges and hiding the dirt in their cracks. poor poor police.

  • K-Bar

    A black man is doing something with his hands! Quick! Shoot him! He MUST be a gangster! Or wanting to go to college or SOMETHING…

  • Crz

    If they were anything like news reporters, they’d investigate the cops to explore why they maligned the mayor.

  • Shang Tsung

    I love the one guy who complains about “Legitimizing these people.”

    These people? Come on man, at least take the hood off before you start talking.

    • docbets

      And, “legitimizing”? They aren’t legitimately people to begin with? Language has meaning and it doesn’t take a linguist to grasp the meaning of that.

  • IronDioPriest

    How did KSTP do anything wrong here? Believe me, I’m no defender of local media. But if police are questioning the photo, and they have specific reasons for questioning it that call the judgment of the mayor into question, that’s a news story. KSTP didn’t make it up.

    And besides, imagine if some Republican had made the same gesture in the same situation. It is utterly laughable to think that KSTPKAREWCCOKMSPMPRSTARTRIBUNEDFL would not be attacking said Republican like a pack of pit-bulls.

    • Tarpaulin77

      The ‘police’ aren’t questioning it: a retired cop who apparently doesn’t like the mayor wrote into the station making a big deal of it because he’s bored. As this article says, the current chief of police was standing a few feet away when the picture was taken.

      And no, if a ‘republican’ pointed at the person they were taking a photo with, it wouldn’t be a story. The republican cutting foodstamps and dumping oil into the ocean while starting needless wars would still be the story.

    • No, it’s really not a news story. It COULD be a new story with some actual reporting, but that’s not what KSTP did. KSTP apparently made one call to the mayor to ask “are you flashing a gang sign” and when the mayor didn’t respond, they went with the story that was delivered to them by the cops, who — it has to be pointed out — have always had a difficult relationship with city hall.

      So, a reporter has to ask a few things:
      -1- What’s in it for the cops here?
      -2- Who’s this kid that we’ve decided (you have to see Kolls’ tweet for this)
      is flashing a gang sign?
      -3- What is the other explanation for what the cops think is the great threat to North Minneapolis?

      But they didn’t ask those things because those could have led to finding out there’s no real story here.

      Could there have been a story here? Sure. Was there a story here? No, there wasn’t, because once the context is supplied, all of the explanations lead to a reasonable conclusion that it wasn’t a gang initiation of Mayor Hodges; it was a get-out-the-vote story.

      The doubling down by KSTP is almost as egregious because it confirms that it asked almost no questions to explore the motives of police and that it engaged in a deliberate ignorance of context under the guise that “only the mayors judgment was in question.”

      This is about as sloppy an example of reporting as I’ve seen here in 22 years, and, for the record, I included a few Republicans (and Greens and Independence and DFLers) on my ballot this week. So the old “if Republicans did this” is a poor excuse for the lack of analysis.

      What’s REALLY sad to me is Minnesota let the Minnesota News Council go out of business. It lost support of news orgnaizations and — more importantly — lost the support of people who stopped bringing journalistic complaints to it.

      This was right in the MNC’s wheelhouse and it clearly would’ve led to a broader discussion of the issue which would have made it easier to get an answer to the “what’s the big deal?” question.

      Jay Kolls carried water for the Mpls police union on this story. That’s what all the context points to.

      The utter lack of critical analysis here, the failure to ask even the most basic questions of journalism in the entire KSTP newsroom is utterly frightening.

      This isn’t a story that is living in some grey area of journalistic ethics. This one is a slam dunk for poor reporting.

      Oh, also, use your real name if you’re going to comment here. That’s the rule.

    • iKento

      There’s just a lot that they left out of the story. Like, if it was so anti-police, why was the POLICE CHIEF there as well.

  • that_bluebird

    So really, what the “statement” establishes is this:
    1. The police cannot investigate their own concerns, so they pass information to the press.
    2. The police, when concerned about things such as ‘publicity’ for gang signs, think it’s a good choice to leak photos and ensure as much publicity as possible.
    3. The police have extremely poor judgement.
    4. Neither the police, nor KSTP, knows how to do simple, rudimentary investigating.

    And, of course, that’s all assuming it’s true and KSTP isn’t just trying to cover their rears after their own reporter made them look like a bunch of slavering dogs.

    • No, I don’t think it says any of those things because for it to say any of those things, we have to accept Kolls unsubstantiated assertion that the young man is in a gang.

      I think it’s fairly clear here that what this story is about is a police union and its relationship with the city it serves.

      The history of Minneapolis gangs and the factions in the police department go back several decades.

      I’m not at all surprised that the union tried to get a TV station to bite on a story as they wanted it told.

      I am surprised a veteran reporter bit on it with so little regard for context.

      (Reminder: Real names, please)

      • Guest

        Apologies, I’ve never posted here before! Real name is Lisa Kapsner, I’ll use a more appropriate handle in the future.

        And you’re right, I was speaking with a handful of hyperbole instead of just a pinch; My irritation is that this ham-fisted response from KSTP essentially makes their “sources” (aka the police) look like a bunch of fools. KSTP, in their haste to protect themselves, is calling into question MY faith in the police, and that’s extremely upsetting to me.

        I’m a proud backer of the men and women in blue, and this episode with KSTP undermines the respect that I try to have – vocally – for the departments that work so hard to keep our cities safe.

        • I think the story that’s behind this story goes all the way back to Sharif Willis and Spike Moss and the United For Peace Effort that the police and gangs in Mpls started in the ’90s, which split the police rank and file down the middle,a nd which ended the night Officer Jerry Haaf was killed.

          I think that night changed forever the relationships cops have not only with north Minneapolis, but the relationship they have with chiefs and mayors.


          • No Free Lunch

            Chris Johnson, here. I think the bad blood with city hall goes back even further than that, Mr. Collins. Have a chat with Tony Bouza (chief 80-89) sometime, and I think you’ll realize it’s been a problem for many decades. The problem is the cops and their union, and the fact that decent Minnesotans didn’t want to criticize their “boys in blue” for so many years that it has developed into a self-perpetuating cancer. You do know the (federal) Justice Department threatened to put the department under some kind of federal control at one point because of the egregious problems there, right?

      • raflw

        “we have to accept Kolls unsubstantiated assertion that the young man is in a gang”
        And this is where the calls out to racism play in. The young man has a criminal record. He admits that on the locally produced video that’s making the rounds now that the KSTP story is out.

        Rather than running a potentially interesting and unusual story of a kid serving his sentence creatively, and acting on his community’s behalf, and with the mayor and chief of police doing some good old fashioned door-knocking, no we have a blurred photo and insinuating claims of “connections to gang members.”

        I do racial equity in employment work. I bet it would be fairly easy for KSTP or whomever to claim that I – white gay guy community organizer type – might have “connections to former gang members” (cue sinister music). Ruh roh.

        The upshot is, KSTP was playing to a tired but very handy racial stereotype that black men are menacing gang-bangers, and use that to assail the mayor. To heck with any consequences to the young man working to live a better life, which itself is counter to the racist narrative that black men are irredeemable.

        • busdriver37

          To add to the ridiculousness of the KSTP story, I’m just boggled that they try to portray it as shocking that this guy has/had “connections to gang members.” Just hearing his background, I would assume he does/did. Doesn’t change the fact that by all appearances, he’s turning his life around. THAT is the real story here, not whatever muck KSTP is raking.

  • KarmikCykle

    Impressive. And not in a good way, KSTP.

  • mmnicollet

    Bob, since the police chief was also present when the “flashing” was going on, I’m curious whether part of what’s going might be an attempt by a (retired, white, male) officer to undermine the (black, female) chief. Thoughts?

    • I don’t think so — at least in the terms you describe — but the police union and the chief/city hall have had cantankerous relations over the years. So, yes, I do believe there’s at least the POSSIBILITY THAT union politics involved in what the union was trying to do. And I think if you’re a veteran reporter in Minneapolis, that possibility has to enter into your mind as you approach a story like this one.

  • mrbarolo

    Takes me back to the Obamas’ terrorist fist bump, courtesy of the cartoon journalists on Fox. Looking forward to so much more.

  • lilycarol

    Black Deaf people, beware KSTP.

    • Pablo G Miranda

      They won’t last a minute in front of a Minneapolis Cop.

  • David Greene

    Very good reporting! This is the kind of work we need from the fourth estate.

    • lilycarol


  • docbets

    Click bait, using both racism’s adherents and protesters. Disgusting, happens all the time now, but this might be one of the worst.

    • ceeza

      not clickbait when it’s broadcast into living rooms all over the state..

  • paulalovescats

    She’s not pointing at him. She’s doing some stupid thing with her hand to copy him. So the question is…..why do they both look like guns? Thumb up, gun.

    • lilycarol

      To a child it looks like a gun. She isn’t going to point a child’s gun at a friend in front of a camera. Why does anything look like anything?

    • Yeah, she actually is pointing at him. He’s pointing at her. And if you look at many Hodges pictures, that’s what she does.

    • Tarpaulin77

      Yes, you can see many pictures of her posing with people in this pose. It’s like a ‘Hey! We’re in a photo!’ pose.

    • docbets

      Look at the video. She first pointed at him, then he copied her.

  • Tina M. Wade

    Kolls is an a$$whipe and should be suspended w/out pay for such crappy reporting.

  • Joanne

    Keep it up Bob. Please save journalism from itself.

  • CharlieQuimby

    I don’t get how gang members were going to see this photo before cops unveiled it to a TV station.

  • William J Wilson

    KSTP Should rot in shame. Some people live to be offended.

  • TCguns_carry

    Everyone is missing the real story here. Why do kids get expelled from school for making this same gesture with their fingers?

  • Matt

    Incredibly poor judgment by all those involved with the production of this so-called “story.” Also, new record for comments on NewsCut?

  • Jeff

    I finally watched the KTSP story. Un-effing-believeable! And they still have it on their home page! Totally unreal. I can’t believe that someone who was involved with the story didn’t put a stop to it.


    On a semi-related note, if the mayor and the other man are showing gang signs, does that mean they are showing different signs? Their signs aren’t the same.

  • Dave

    KSTP’s newsroom phone : 612 588 6397

    “If you have a tip on suspected welfare fraud in Minnesota, press 4.”

    I am not kidding.

  • Eric Goebelbecker

    You might want to add this to your timeline? Why was this not in his story? Is it even true?


    • KTN

      Was this the time he was arrested for trying to register people to vote, or was it gang related, or was he fighting for ISIL – never sure when Koll’s takes to the air.

      • Eric Goebelbecker

        Ah. Poking around that seems to be what he is referring to….and why it would have been left out of the original story. Good catch.

  • ceeza

    they run a bogus hit piece on a local mayor and no retraction, apology or follow up? we should except one right?

    • Jeff

      I’m thinking that they are proud of the piece.

      • ceeza

        of course they are and it’s just weird and so transparent.. also There’s some sketchy local politickin going on when the police plant a hit piece on the mayor like this.. the police planted this.. that’s so insanely sketchy..

  • JimLoomis

    Yo, KSTP … “If you can’t be right, be wrong at the top of your voice.”

  • marylou

    It’s well known that reporting at KSTP is clearly biased. They are owned by Hubbard Broadcasting – the Fox News of Minneapolis. Any political story is always slanted in favor of the GOP and only the negative side is told if it’s a Democrat. You could tell in their reporting that they were clearly dismayed at the election results on Tuesday. They had been highlighting Johnson, McFadden, Westrom and Mills ad naseum. Seems like they are always trying to catch the government doing something wrong too. And now this racist story. Serves them right that their sly little tactics backfired on them.

  • Mary Wick

    Thank you NPR

  • Chris

    KSTP asserts that MPD alerted them and they ran the story without questioning the police department’s position? Well they say you can’t fight city hall. For once I hope that’s true. Betsy and the Chief deserve an apology for this nonsense.

  • joe

    This is the media not having any news to report… so they simply made it up. These people need ratings and money to stay on the air. They’re not going to go on air and tell you everything has been great the past 24 hours…. They HAVE to have something to report… real or not!

    • Don’t use the term “the media”. Media is plural. This is owned by KSTP singularly.

  • Matthew St-Germain

    And we come to the center of the shrubbery maze. Gordon is the same
    gentleman attacked by the MPD back in September for doing his job. What a
    shock, the cop threatened to shoot people claiming the officer was out
    of line. Seems fitting that the MPD can use ‪#‎pointergate‬ to both attack Hodges while at the same time attempt to support their officer’s unnecessary use of force against Gordon in September.

    “Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) officials said that Navell
    Gordon, 22, of Minneapolis, was collecting signatures for a petition to
    restore felons’ voting rights outside Cub Foods at 701 W. Broadway on
    Thursday when an employee asked him to leave.

    Officials claim that Gordon was approached by an officer, identified in
    a police report as Tyrone Barze Jr., who, after a brief exchange,
    tackled and handcuffed him.

    When several witnesses protested,
    Barze reportedly threatened to shoot them if they persisted, said
    Wintana Melekin, NOC’s community engagement director.

    Melekin said she rushed to the scene after learning of Gordon’s arrest and was arrested after confronting Barze.”


  • Curtis Collins

    I’ve seen people used the same sign to signal, “Call Me.”

  • joetron2030

    Congrats, Bob, NPR linked to this post from their Facebook page!

    You might want to remind the new folks of your rules for commenting. 😉

  • MPLS Joe

    Republicans can be such assholes. Loved the E.T. photo!

  • KSTP: Attacking Democrats in the lamest ways possible.

    As for the MPD oficers, one wonders if they might have been attempting “payback” for Hodges’ stated intent to clean up the department.

  • RachaelHD

    Wow, seriously KSTP, the degree to which you have failed is mind boggling. The police involved in this ridiculous story and KSTP and Jay Kolls should all be ashamed of themselves. Not all gestures are gang signs. Not all black men are gang members. Not all people are dumb enough to buy your blatant and racist baloney. Thank you MPR and News Cut for pointing out the absurdity here.

  • Craig Stellmacher

    Let’s cut to the chase: Is this because Mayor Hodges and Chief Hareau want Minneapolis cops to wear cameras?

    And the police have responded?

    This wasn’t hatched at KSTP, they were merely the tool.

  • toadUso

    So the police find a “dangerous picture” on a guy’s facebook page. Facebook, where gang members troll for signs to retaliate against? Police contact KSTP to give the photo a much bigger local audience and play up the danger… in an effort to lessen the danger. Riiiiiight.

  • Concerned citizen

    A black man in North Minneapolis, must be in a gang. Let’s talk about the structural racism that is behind the context of this story and the police stating critics are “missing the point”. The point that should have been made here is that a young man (22) is almost done with his 3 year sentence of probation and is trying to make North Minneapolis a better and more involved community. But instead of highlighting the good and positive in this story, police who have not been getting their way and have been called out for their misdeeds are retaliating agains the mayor and this young man trying to make a difference, and KTSP just played along. Shame on them.

  • Michael Zalar

    Okay, I went through hundreds of hand gestures and gang gestures and did not find someone pointing a finger to be an expression of gang membership, or having anything to do with gangs at all (though apparently it is used on the Stock Exchange).
    As a gang symbol, it would be a pretty stupid sign to use, as it is used by so many people in a non gang related fashion. You don’t want to mistake someone being part of your gang if they are pointing out where the cat ran off to. They gang gestures that I saw were all pretty complex, many using two hands.
    This is paranoia, plain and simple. Paranoia to the point of delusion.

  • Ross Grooters

    Those blaming media for the Betsy Hodges story need to retrain their sights on the source of the story: cops who wanted to bully and defame the Mayor.

    • ceeza


    • jack

      another attempted defamation of character brought to you by your friendly neighborhood boys in blue…when will they ever learn?

  • Erik

    This was a total hit job on the mayor. Jay Kolls should lose his job.

    • ceeza

      correct. but who ordered the “hit”? The police are getting a pass on this and they shouldn’t be.. dirty dirty dirty cops using a buffoon reporter who was either in on it or dumber than imaginable.. local reporters need to focus on the police. but they won’t

  • deanndra

    Well, the next time I’m in Minneapolis, I’m going to be sure not to point out anything. In fact, I won’t say or do anything in case it is construed as a gang sign. Kstp ought to be ashamed to call that journalism. I grew up here trusting KSTP to deliver honest news stories, not drudge up lies and deception.

  • Suzanne

    Excellent work here on MPR; thanks for common sense reporting on the utter lack of investigation by KSTP.

  • discripplemation

    So, let me get this right…the Chief of Police for Minneapolis was THERE with them? And made no comment about it. So what are these “law enforcement agencies” that were supposedly claiming they knew it was a gang sign? They give a direct quote from ONE retired cop. I’d like an interview with some current cops who actually see bangers pointing at each other on the street and can give proof that it is, indeed, a gang sign. Because right now, I’m thinking they made up the bit about “multiple sources from several law enforcement agencies” and that it was some busy body racist that called in to complain about the pic just to stir up some shart. They need to can that big bag of doosh Kolls. What that guy knows about gangs would fit on the head of a pin and leave room for the Lords’ Prayer.

  • Officer Justin Craven

    “Michael Quinn, who also managed the department’s Internal Affairs Unit” MPD Internal Affairs is a mockery of justice and anything honorable and this creep Quinn is soiled with its filth.

  • Daniel Stephans II

    I think it will be very interesting how this unfolds. The lack of sourcing and investigation are now on a national stage. Mr. Kolls has reacted in an unprofessional and defensive manner more suited to a spoiled child than a journalist.

  • ceeza

    The police chief, who was there during the photo, is getting an incredible pass. this was clearly a political hit piece hand delivered by someone in the police department to a moron reporter.. A statement from her should be asked for immediately.

    • Daniel Stephans II

      If it wasn’t clickbait the chief’s response would have been part of the reporting. The only “law enforcement” on the record is a retired LEO.

      • ceeza

        “click bait”? this was broadcast into living rooms.

        • Daniel Stephans II

          The semantics of poor reporting put into the medium I am commenting in. Not really an important distinction but you are correct, it was a broadcast and therefore not technically clickbait.

  • busdriver37

    How Jay Kolls – and well, any staff at KSTP who has even touched this “story,” double-down and triple-down, etc. – can have jobs still tomorrow is beyond me. Pathetic. That’s not journalism.

  • Kar Nels

    Unbelievable, that triple-down by KSTP is crazy. Really, no offense intended Mayor, but older dorky white woman makes sign with guy during get out the vote drive that will have deep significance to gangs and will cause gang war and crime wave? What next, the guys she had arm around had Ebola and he flew off right after this to join ISIS in Syria?

    • lilycarol

      I wouldn’t agree that she is “older.” LOL

  • Ibby

    Responding to updates: in addition to the “tripling down” by Kolls, the station published another “article” around the same time by another “reporter” basically pretending to be objective and talking about Kolls’ “critics.” Either they’re trying to spam the internet with their own articles or nobody communicates over what to publish over there.

    Also, I noticed earlier that the comments on the KSTP website were literally unanimously critical of the “story.” Now there is one lone commenter with a Yahoo account by the name “sho94_2000” sticking up for Kolls and saying that “the mayor shouldn’t be hanging around gang members.” How much you wanna bet that this is Kolls himself?

  • Sara

    And that is why we never watch KSTP. Even their teasers are “high drama” and often sound like the end of the world — “find out what commonly found item is DEADLY!” Ugh. Too much.

  • Ron Fresquez

    The MPD and it’s Union are pissed at the Mayor because she pointed out there are some “bad apples” in the force. Rather than accept that fact as a reality the Union takes a shot at her. The MPD wants the citizens of Minneapolis to believe they are perfect and there are no “Bad Apples on the force. I wonder why the MPD had to dismantle their Gang Strike force? I am pretty sure it was because of all the “Bad Apples” in the Strike force who believed they were above the law. No Bad Apples??? Breakout the Unicorns!!!!!

  • joetron2030

    I came over this morning to see if this was over with. LOL! They tripled-down! I cannot believe it!

  • Pablo G Miranda

    When A Good Political Role Model invests time in her community and experiences a civic lesson with a At Risk Youth On His Way To Recovery, 3 White Men see Gangster activity.

    It wouldn’t be too alarming if it wasn’t for 2 things:

    1- Two of those white men are in charge of upholding our laws in Multicultural neighborhoods. (The other one doesn’t matter, he’s just the reporter that blindly follows directions-can’t think with his own head-or maybe he actually does)

    2- This is what our inner-city youth sees:

    “*()” – are mine.

    Happy Dude working at life, that by the Police’s own accounts in the article: “there’s no evidence that he belongs to a gang, but they say he has connections to gang members”.
    Connections! You understand? Black connections to black gangs!

    Aaaaand: He’s black and a Fuzzy Face Black “convicted felon” and a black “well known criminal” hugging a white woman that “has put the public and police at risk””showing solidarity with the *(black) gangs””she’s legitimizing these (black)people that are killing our (white) children in Minneapolis”. She’s in a “photo that creates a safety problem for every *(white)officer, in every gang unit in the metro”.What a b@#*! “She’s been around long enough, she knows better”

    She knows better what?? How fragile and tender our Police Gang units are? Those poor guys now are gonna have to go to see the shrink over a photo of a black guy “arm in arm” with a white woman and making the sign of what is obviously a gun. So don’t blame them when they start shooting randomly, they are scared! I’m scared! Next Halloween I’m going as a White Woman Pointing a Finger…. Anybody wants to come as the young black guy with the white scarf? We can go trick or treat at the Police headquarters….

    But Betsy is gonna have to make up her mind: “Is she gonna support (black) gangs in the city or (white) cops” (quote from: John Delmonico, be aware of his surroundings cause you can find some day that he is the Blue Guy in the alley at night….with the gun… and that really is SCARY)

    Btw, the real story here is that Michael Quinn managed the Internal Affairs unit for 25 years. No wonder cops got away with all kinds of despicable acts while he was managing. Don’t believe me? Look it up.

    “It’s a story you will only see on 5” – Amen to that…. and thanks to their own biases that made them be blind to racism, sexism, “priviledgesism” and allowed them to air this garbage.

    I’m gonna have to give up my shadow puppet hobby now, I just found out that a City of Stillwater Gang uses one of my creations as a gang hand signal:

  • Paul Comeau

    This article too – http://other98.com/suspicious-timing-pointergate/ – also shows a now deleted Minneapolis Police tweet of Chief Harteau at the same event.

  • Paul Comeau

    also don’t forget Mpls police treatment of Jim Walsh’s son – http://www.southwestjournal.com/voices/voices/police-on-my-kids-back – Mple police have a pr problem imo. Over the time I’ve lived here since 1986 they seem more attitudinal, more egotistical. Dunno, my take is they aren’t in the neighborhoods enough and hence have a more “us vs. them” attitude.

  • Brent R.
  • beaverbutt

    I pray that the degenerates who ran this story, and the cops who pushed them to do so, suffer violent, gory deaths.

  • Fern

    just plain stupid, shame on Quinn and KSTP.

  • HardDriver

    Sad that the police, nationwide, don’t realize that they have been exposed, no, overexposed as to what their agenda is and it will come back to bite them. They have their work cut out for themselves. It will be very difficult, if not impossible, for them to put the lid back on the Pandora’s Box that they opened.

  • Colin V

    If you look into KSTP’s record you’ll find they do very shoddy journalism with almost zero ethics.

    KSTP hit with $1 million dollar defamation verdict

    KSTP misleading report on Iron Range

  • Anna

    And we wonder why we have racial problems and unrest in this country….

    What is more disconcerting to me is KSTP trying to justify this idiocy so they don’t lose face. Admit you made a mistake, do a retraction and get on with it.

    Thirty years ago we would not be having this discussion because instantaneous communication didn’t exist in the form of texting, selfies, Facebook and a host of other online, social Internet nonsense.

    Hell, we not only don’t trust our government, we don’t trust each other either.

    Everyone needs to take a giant step backwards and CHILL, to quote a favorite term of the Millennium generation. Maybe it’s time to go back to the oh-so-yesterday method of face-to-face communication.

  • CyberDurden
  • Henry Walker

    They are just trying to get back at her for pointing out the way they treat people.

  • Touchstone Farm

    Obviously none of the KSTP “news” team went to the great journalism school at the U of M-Minneapolis. If they did, they spent more time looking in the bathroom mirror to prep for being a face on the air than understanding the principles of good journalism. And, Kolls continues to show he is far, far from being a journalist … or even very smart … with his ridiculous tweets. He needs to join Faux News which is strictly a propaganda channel. It’s where he really belongs, not pretending to be in the role of a journalist.

  • Dave

    No matter the reasons for the story airing, if Mayor Hodges was intelligent, responsible and committed to doing her job, she would explain the photo yet denounce any gang affiliations or activities. She should show her support of the police and her willingness to work with them. She has not done this at all. In fact all she has done is make light of the situation and pandered to her supporters. As a side note, I love how the vast majority of respondents on this site believe they are so much more intelligent. The egotism is overwhelming.

  • I’ve deleted some replies and posts for the usual reasons — at NewsCut, you should feel empowered to make forceful arguments but calling names and insulting other commenters isn’t allowed. Other than that, it’s all fair game. Be nice, be logical, be adults.

  • Byron Burke

    I’ve got like 8 pictures of me and my buddies in that same pose.

  • Jessica Neubauer

    Mythology? Officer, words like that are the reason there’s bad blood.