Critics of police department have long called for Harteau's ouster

Protesters shut down Mayor Betsy Hodges' press conference.
John Thompson and other protesters shut down Mayor Betsy Hodges' press conference at City Hall Friday evening.
Maria Alejandra Cardona | MPR News

Two years ago, in the days after a Minneapolis police officer shot Jamar Clark during a struggle outside of an ambulance, protesters outside the fourth precinct in North Minneapolis told then police chief Janee Harteau "the community doesn't want you here."

When Harteau resigned as chief Friday afternoon, it felt like a long time coming to Minneapolis NAACP President Jason Sole, who had been part of those protests.

"We were calling for this when we saw how she was handling the Jamar Clark killing. So, I think it's right for her to resign or be fired," he said.

It hasn't been an easy couple of years for Harteau, who was appointed in 2012. She dealt with the Clark shooting, an officer who kicked a man who was kneeling on the ground, an officer who shot two dogs, and last week, an officer who fatally shot a woman who approached his squad car, moments after she'd called 911 to report a possible crime.

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Mayor Betsy Hodges on Friday said she'd lost faith in her and so had the community. Their relationship had also recently been strained following a controversial fourth precinct appointment. But Hodges did make a point to praise Harteau's nearly five years as chief.

"I appreciate very much the leadership that Chief Harteau has brought and what she's been able to put into place here in Minneapolis," she said. "It's also clear that to move forward that new leadership was needed and I appreciate her willingness to step aside to provide that."

Police department critic Michelle Gross, the head of Communities United Against Police Brutality, felt Harteau didn't stand up enough to the police union.

"They interfere with the ability to discipline police officers in meaningful ways that would hold them accountable and reduce the amount of bad policing that we have in this city," she said. "And they have way too much power in that regard. And I think frankly they have that power because the chief doesn't want to discipline them anyway, and so they just let it happen."

Chauntyll Allen of Black Lives Matter St. Paul read a statement from civil rights activist and mayoral candidate Nekima Levy-Pounds during a rally in Loring Park Friday night.

"As a testament to the power of advocacy, many of us called for Chief Harteau to be fired for her negligence and inadequate oversight of MPD officers. And today we received word that she has resigned," she said, to cheers.

Long time civil rights advocate and activist, Ron Edwards, sees Harteau's time as chief in a much different light.

"I was saddened by it and I think it was a bad decision on the part of the mayor," she said. "The chief was my friend in the past, she's my friend now and she'll be my friend in the future. I think she's been a good chief. I think she's done some thing that were expected to be done, if you will."

Hodges appointed Assistant Chief Medaria Arradondo, a department veteran, to fill out the rest of Harteau's term.

Mel Reeves, a long time activist, isn't sure that will change much.

"People don't want to own up to the fact that this stuff is institutional. That's why it keeps happening all over the country. It's part of what police do," he said. "Oh, Mr. Arradondo is going to come along and it's going to be ok now? I don't have any confidence that it's going to be ok. This is the institution. It's bigger than Harteau, bigger than Arradondo."

Arradondo took over as chief Friday evening.