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After (another) police shooting, sign warns Twin Cities cops 'easily startled'

Addy Free

Addy Free

Minnesota's developing a reputation it doesn't want: As a place where cops are too quick to grab a firearm and pull the trigger. 

As of this past weekend, an industrious vandal is trying to warn the locals about the very people they've hired to protect them.

Around midday on Sunday, Addy Free was returning home from his work as an assistant registrar at Macalester College in St. Paul. Free had just stepped off a bus when he spotted what appeared to be an official traffic sign... until he got a closer look.

Free says another passenger who got off the same bus stopped also stopped to snap a picture of the sign, which was on the corner of Snelling Ave. and University Ave. Free says he doesn't have any idea who made it, and didn't see anything when he checked the back to see if the vandal had taken credit.

Free published the sign photo to Facebook, where it's since been shared more than 18,000 times. He spent Sunday periodically deleting a few racist responses—all from strangers, not Free's friends—inspired by the photo.

"It's been fairly mild," Free says, "but I don't want the post to cause more harm than it does good."

Another sign was spotted in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reports. A spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department said they were aware of the signs, and had no comment.

The perception about our local cops has stretched worldwide since July 15, after the killing of Justine Damond, an Australian woman who'd alerted Minneapolis police to a possible sexual assault in her south Minneapolis neighborhood. Damond, 40, was shot at close range by officer Mohamed Noor through the window of the squad car as she stood next to it, and died soon after. 

Outrage over the shooting led Janee Harteau, chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, to resign last week. 

Damond's shooting came a week after Michael Mays, another Minneapolis officer, shot a woman's two dogs while responding to a home alarm. Both dogs lived, and the city offered to "help" with vet bills related the shooting.

The dog shooting came just three weeks after Jeronimo Yanez, a (now-former) police officer with the St. Anthony Police Department, was acquitted on all counts for shooting and killing Philando Castile

Not done yet: Castile's death in summer 2016 was only a few months after Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman declined to file charges against officers in the shooting of Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old black man who was unarmed at the time. (The two cops involved said Clark had reached for one of their guns during a struggle.) 

The signs installed aroud town aren't allowed, and, once spotted by local authorities, will likely be hastily removed. The message on them will probably be around a while longer.