Some thoughts on Trump’s Minneapolis hate rally

A US President came to Minneapolis last night to lead a hate rally. The only thing remarkable about this fact is that it’s not remarkable anymore.

Because it was entirely predictable, it should be to the eternal shame of the Star Tribune editorial board that they denounced Mayor Frey and Council President Bender for preemptively rejecting a message of hate. It was very decent of our city’s elected leaders to stand up for the dignity of all my neighbors. It says something about the Star Tribune they they felt the need to editorialize against it.

One of the ugly realities exposed by the Trump presidency is just how many Americans are eager to get out and be publicly racist again. Racism and xenophobia isn’t an undercurrent in our politics anymore. It’s out and proud. And last night they had a convention in downtown Minneapolis.

And then we have Bob Kroll’s “Cops for Trump” sideshow. Kroll is the Minneapolis police union president who’s become somewhat of a national right-wing figure for embracing Trump (catch him on Fox and Friends). Kroll’s been a local Trump-style white supremacist for years before we knew that sort of thing could get elected president.

Kroll spent the days ahead of the Trump event whining that officers weren’t being allowed to attend the campaign rally wearing their uniforms. The city recently strengthened an existing rule against police engaging in politics in uniform. It’s a little revealing about the outsized power of police unions that we didn’t already have a rock solid rule keeping police from campaigning in uniform. One result of the uniform ban is that the Minneapolis Police Federation started selling a lot of ugly red “Cops for Trump” t-shirts. And of course Bob Kroll got to appear on stage with Trump at the rally.

That Minneapolis police officers have chosen Bob Kroll as their political voice and union leader says something terrible about them as a group. And again, Kroll hasn’t revealed anything about himself this week that we haven’t known for years.

I joked earlier this week that it seems like a bad idea to spend so much of the city’s budget on patrols carried out by armed Trump fans. But we actually have a serious debate almost every year about funding more cops in Minneapolis almost every year. We know that 92% of Minneapolis police officers (as of 2017) do not live in Minneapolis. Minneapolis cops have much more in common with the suburban Trump fans who attended last night’s rally. We also know that Minneapolis police officers choose as their public avatar a Trumpian white nationalist. This isn’t the only reason to be deeply skeptical spending even more money on cops in Minneapolis. But it’s the one I’m thinking about after last night.