Officers who decorated racist Christmas tree in Mpls. fired

Two Minneapolis police officers, accused of putting racist decorations on a Christmas tree at a police precinct last year, have been terminated. However, their union is appealing the firings.

Photos of a Christmas tree at the Minneapolis Police Department’s 4th Precinct became public last November and sparked outrage in the city's north side, which is home to a large African-American community. The images showed a Christmas tree decorated with Newport cigarettes, beer cans and fast-food trash.

Activists and community members condemned the decorations. Mayor Jacob Frey called the decorations “racist, despicable,” and beneath the standards of anyone serving the city of Minneapolis. Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he was “ashamed and appalled” by how the officers behaved. Frey vowed to fire the officers who put up the decorations.

The two officers involved were put on paid leave after the incident. Just days afterwards, 4th Precinct Inspector Aaron Biard was replaced with Assistant Chief Mike Kjos.

Minneapolis police confirmed Wednesday that officer Mark Bohnsack's employment ended on Aug. 1 and Officer Brandy Steberg's employment ended Monday. Minneapolis police declined further comment on the terminations.

Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, said the union is appealing the decision to fire the two officers.

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