St. Paul Police Union Accused of ‘Dog Whistle Racism’

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St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and mayoral candidate Pat Harris called on the leadership of the Minnesota city’s police union to resign Thursday evening, decrying as racist the group’s recent criticism of Harris’ opponent Melvin Carter III, reports the Pioneer Press. The St. Paul Police Federation accused Carter, who is black, of doing too little to secure two handguns that were stolen from his home in an August burglary. The Police Federation has endorsed Harris in the race for mayor. The criticism was first aired Tuesday in a statement from the union and reiterated Thursday in a campaign mailer that suggested a link between the stolen guns and recent gun violence in St. Paul.

Echoing earlier statements from Carter’s campaign, Coleman and Harris separately criticized the “attacks” as racially motivated — a charge rejected by Police Federation President Dave Titus. “David Titus and the board of the Saint Paul Police Federation have embarrassed the good men and women of the Saint Paul Police Department for too long,” Coleman wrote on Facebook. “The racist attacks and hollow apologies of the last two days may have been aimed at one candidate, but they affect all people of color, and all people of character. They are not worthy of Saint Paul.” Later, Harris said in an emailed statement that “there is absolutely no place in Saint Paul for the type of dirty, political tactics and dog whistle racism that have come from the Saint Paul Police Federation’s leadership over the past few days.”

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