Two Minnesota police put on leave for racist Christmas tree decorations

Two Minnesota police officers were placed on administrative leave after a Christmas tree at a Minneapolis precinct was decorated in what the city's mayor called a "racist display," the Star Tribune reported Friday.

>> Read more trending news

The tree in the city's Fourth Precinct was decorated with a pack of Newport cigarettes, a can of Steel Reserve malt liquor, police tape, a bag of Takis and a cup from Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the newspaper reported. All are considered derogatory in nature to blacks in the city, the Star Tribune reported.

"This behavior is racist, despicable, and is well beneath the standards of any person who serves the city of Minneapolis," Mayor Jacob Frey said, according to WCCO. "Racism and intolerance is absolutely unacceptable, and that should especially be the case amongst our city employees."

Minneapolis City Council member Phillipe Cunningham told the television station that an officer had put some inappropriate ornaments on the tree as a prank after it had been decorated.

In 2015, the Fourth Precinct was a flashpoint of anger after the shooting death of Jamar Clark by police, WCCO reported.

Minnesota civil rights activist Ron Edwards called the tree decorations a "wink wink" to racist stereotypes, the Star Tribune reported.

“It’s a modern-day version of a dog whistle, tainted with racism, specifically against the African-American community,” Edwards told the newspaper.

In a statement Friday, Minneapolis police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he was “ashamed and appalled by the behavior of those who would feel comfortable to act in such a manner that goes against our core department values of trust, accountability and professional service.”