Until today, few people likely thought of a sanitation worker as a victim of the Jamar Clark shooting in Minneapolis in November 2015.
But today’s City Pages article on what happened to one of them — Alan Ditty — is a disturbing piece of journalism.
When the protests outside the 4th Precinct police station were to be put down, the plan was for the police department to move out the protesters, the fire department to put out their fires, and the sanitation workers to clean up the mess.
Ditty was reportedly concerned about the safety of the workers. They hadn’t been trained in riot zones.
“Al was concerned about us because half of us live up there in north Minneapolis, and they know all those people, and it would have been an all-out war if they’d gone in there,” one employee told City Pages. “This was safety and them being neighbors. It was a real touchy situation at the time. A lot of anger, a lot of tempers up.”
Employees of the city interviewed for the story didn’t want their name used. They’re afraid of the city’s response to their talking to a reporter. There’s good reason for their fear.
When Ditty saw the video of white supremacists threatening protesters,he knew the situation wasn’t safe. His supervisor had told him he didn’t have a choice; he and the others had to go into the area to clean up the site when the raid on protesters came.
So he sent a news tip to KARE 11, City Pages reports.
And KARE 11 turned his email over to the police, it says.
Some cops were infuriated by the leak. After being informed of KARE’s email, Chief Janee Harteau called off the raid, says a source with knowledge of the events inside the ops building.
Sometime during the night, Al received an email saying the raid was aborted.
“RE: Street Cleanup Strike Team,” read the subject line.
“For many reasons,” the email said, “this has been CANCELLED.”
Two or more other raids were also planned and scotched, say city council members, one after another supposed leak from a mayor’s aide. (Hodges’ spokesman, Eric Fought, declined comment for this story.)
The missed opportunity didn’t sit well with some inside City Hall, people with the power to make certain a tipster was going to pay.
Ditty was suspended. He acknowledged to the city’s investigators that he sent the email because he was afraid for the safety of him and his colleagues.
In March 2016, he was fired for talking to the media.
All the city officials who could talk aren’t talking.
The employees who are afraid of their names being used are.
“Al was a blue-collar guy, a working guy. If he knew something he would tell you. He wouldn’t play no games with you. He was only looking out for his employees. Somebody had to be the scapegoat, so it had to be Al Ditty. They took everything away from him.”
A week after being fired, Ditty killed himself.
KARE 11 told City Pages it’s still investigating — 13 months later — how and why an email with a tipster’s name was turned over to police.