Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges (D) has been accused by a local TV station of supporting criminal gangs, because she and a former felon doing get-out-the-vote work around Election Day posed in a picture pointing at each other. The news outlet, KSTP, said that the mayor was flashing a “gang sign” and quoted a law enforcement official claiming that she was “showing solidarity with the gangs.”
Hodges and Navell Gordon, the volunteer with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, were not flashing gang signs. In reality, they were awkwardly trying to figure out how to pose for the camera, as video of their interaction showed.
History suggests that Hodges would not have found herself in this fracas if she had been posing with a white man. Even KTSP acknowledged there was no evidence that Gordon belonged to a gang. But he is a black man with a criminal record, and the news outlet and its law enforcement sources apparently felt that made “flashing a gang sign” a logical conclusion.
This isn’t the first time African-Americans have been accused of supporting criminal activity because they made a hand gesture. Michael Brown, the black teenager shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, was portrayed as a thug for showing various hand signs in old photos.