Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, who has been accused by police and the media for allegedly flashing a “gang sign” and standing with a “convicted criminal” while encouraging voters ahead of last week’s midterm elections, has a message for the people who ridiculed her: “I’m not going to stop pointing.”
“I point a lot. Lots of people point. The president. Bill Clinton. Stephen Colbert. Babies. It is the earliest form of human communication,” the mayor wrote in a blog post Thursday. She said she won’t refrain from being in the presence of people whose criminal history she doesn’t know, nor from standing next to “young African-American men.”
The controversy began when a local TV station in Minnesota recently obtained a photograph of Hodges standing arm-in-arm next to a community volunteer, who is black. The two individuals posed, smiling and pointing at one another. The news outlet broadcast and wrote a story that accused Hodges of flashing a “known gang sign” and standing next to a man who “is a twice-convicted felon for drug selling and possession and illegal possession of a firearm.” The public criticized the news outlet by taking to social media and creating the hashtag “PointerGate.”
The mayor and volunteer had been traveling door-to-door to encourage residents to vote before the Nov. 4 elections. In her blog post responding to the attacks, Hodges outlined several reasons she thinks some Minneapolis police officials criticized her.
“It could be that the head of the police union wants me to stop working to raise the standards of police culture and accountability,” she wrote, noting that she remains undaunted in her commitment to ensure a stronger relationship between the police and community.
John Elder, public information officer for the Minneapolis Police Department, on Friday told msnbc the force had no additional comment. The mayor’s office didn’t immediately respond to msnbc’s request for comment.
Last month, Hodges took a position on law enforcement and community relations. Prior to posing in the now-infamous photograph, she wrote on Oct. 8 in an open letter to the community that “some officers abuse the trust that is afforded to them, and take advantage of their roles to do harm rather than prevent it.” John Delmonico, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, wrote a response letter, in which he defended the force’s disciplinary system.
Even comedian Jon Stewart joined in on the public outcry this week.
“Mayor Betsy Hodges was doing voter-registration work with a man who wasn’t in a gang, and was brazenly flashing a not-gang sign,” joked Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”