Law enforcement and local news reporters in Minneapolis are absolutely outraged that the Minnesota city’s mayor, Betsy Hodges, dared to pose with a convicted felon and flash “gang signs” in the resulting photo. But did she actually throw up gang signs, and is this guy actually a known gang member? Nope and nope!
The photo at the center of this “scandal” depicts Hodges posing with an unnamed man, whom the local news simply refers to as a “criminal,” with the two pointing at each other, as people sometimes do in pictures and also historic art. It’s a completely harmless hand gesture, one frequently deployed when posing for a photo with a famous person like, say, the mayor of your city. But in Minneapolis, typically innocuous gestures take on a much more sinister meaning — especially when a black guy is involved.
“She is legitimizing these people,” one former police officer told the news station. “She is legitimizing gangs who are killing our children in Minneapolis and I just can’t believe it. It hurts.”
Of course, the station doesn’t provide any evidence that the man is actually in a gang. In fact, according to TPM, the unnamed man is trying to start fresh and is getting involved with community organizing — which explains why he was volunteering at an event for a nonprofit called Neighborhoods Organizing for Change.
America: where pointing while black is a crime. At least Twitter is getting some good joke mileage out of it.