In the wake of George Floyd’s killing by now-former Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officer Derek Chauvin, few have been inclined to defend Chauvin or his colleagues who stood by and watched as he suffocated Floyd to death. Few, that is, except Bob Kroll.
In a letter to membership, Kroll — the president of the MPD’s police union — referred to protesters outraged by police brutality as a “terrorist movement” and defended the officers who killed Floyd and were subsequently fired, arguing they were “terminated without due process” and lamenting, “What is not being told is the violent criminal history of George Floyd.” (Floyd had a criminal record, but mostly for nonviolent drug and theft charges.)
Kroll’s statements illustrate a central challenge in American efforts to transform policing: Police unions, the groups that represent police officers, are a powerful force that stands in the way of holding police accountable.
The military is not allowed to take political stands. The police force is, and does, and its politics are backed up by force.