Minneapolis cops stage walk-out at Lynx game, Bob Kroll slams 'pathetic' attendance

Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson, and Seimone Augustus spoke out on Saturday.

Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson, and Seimone Augustus spoke out on Saturday.

The Minneapolis Police Department could be sitting this one out.

Philando Castile was killed in Falcon Heights by Jeronimo Yanez, an officer with the St. Anthony Police Department. 

Over the weekend, protests in reaction to Castile's death were held in St. Paul, where cops arrested 102 people, 46 of whom will now be charged with third degree riot, a gross misdemeanor.

So far, the events don't have anything to do with Minneapolis cops. But they do after last night. A group of four off-duty city police officers walked off the job doing security for a Minnesota Lynx game at the Target Center, the Star Tribune reports. The coordinated walk-out marked a protest of their own, as police, through their local union, struck back against political statements Lynx players had made over the weekend. 

The four best, most well-known Lynx players — Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Rebekah Brunson, and Lindsay Whalen — held a press conference to discuss police violence on Saturday, donning shirts that said "Change starts with us." On the back, the shirts referenced Castile, Alton Sterling, the Louisiana man killed by police last week, and "Black Lives Matter." Players wore the same shirts during their pregame shootaround Monday night. 

Brunson, who grew up in the Washington, D.C. area, shared her own story of having a gun drawn on her as a child, and described racial profiling as a "human issue" that called for national self-examination.

Bob Kroll does not sound like a Lynx season ticket holder.

Bob Kroll does not sound like a Lynx season ticket holder.

Moore, in her remarks, said the team didn't "in any way condone violence against the men and women who serve in our police force." She added that it's "tragic" that the Dallas Police Department, a recognized leader in de-escalation training, had been targeted by Micah Johnson, the sniper who killed five officers and wounded seven others during a protest last week. 

"It's clear that education and exposure, grounded in compassion for one another, is called for by our leaders," Moore said.

That call didn't seem to reach the head of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis. Kroll, who seemed to know an awful lot about something that was happening right that very moment, told the Strib he "commended" the four officers for leaving their off-duty gigs at the Target Center. Kroll said he'd also heard other cops were taking their names off the list as eligible for Lynx security work.

"If [Lynx players] are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there," he said.

It's not clear just which stance Lynx players need to rescind to regain the support of Kroll's police union. Perhaps they could don shirts saying "Black Lives Don't Matter," or Moore could put out a statement condemning "compassion for one another." 

Kroll said the Lynx had engaged in "unwarranted and reckless" early judgment of the deaths of Sterling and Castile. The moment of Sterling's killing was captured on film, while Diamond Reynolds, girlfriend of Castile, documented what came just after his shooting with a cell phone camera. 

In a helpful, respectful aside, Kroll denied that as many as eight cops had left their posts at the Target Center, citing poor attendance for the Lynx, by far the state's most successful professional sports franchise.

"They only have four officers working the event," Kroll said, "because the Lynx have such a pathetic draw." 

UPDATE:  Minneapolis Police Department Chief Janee Harteau responded to the police walk-out on Tuesday, saying their decision "does not conform to the expectations held by the public." Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges responded to Kroll's words directly, calling them "jackass remarks" that don't reflect the views of the city or its police department.