The former head of the Minneapolis police union has settled a lawsuit over his role in the treatment of demonstrators at protests after the murder of George Floyd.
Under the settlement, former Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis President Bob Kroll agreed that he won’t serve as a police officer in Hennepin, Ramsey, or Anoka Counties for the next decade. Kroll also agreed that he wouldn’t serve on the state board that oversees police licensing.
Attempts to reach Kroll for comment were not successful. He’s been retired from the Minneapolis Police Department since January 2021. In the settlement, Kroll denied all claims of wrongdoing.
The lawsuit filed in 2020 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota alleged that Kroll and others retaliated against people exercising their First Amendment rights to protest and that police used excessive force, including chemical irritants, without providing a sufficient warning.
In the original suit, the plaintiffs argued that Kroll acted as “an unofficial policymaker” within the department, and that his opinions served as “policy guidance for officers.” They cite a letter he sent to officers after the unrest following Floyd’s murder telling them that “the politicians are to blame and you are the scapegoats.”
Kroll had a long history of making public comments that some said were racist or tone deaf. In the months after Floyd’s murder, demonstrators called for Kroll to resign. Some activists protested in August 2020 outside the home Kroll shared with his wife, Alpha News journalist Liz Collin, smashing piñatas with their likenesses.
Plaintiff and civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong said the settlement sends a message that police leadership will be held accountable for their decisions.
“He misused his role as the Minneapolis Police Federation president by being insensitive to those who were the victims of police violence and the use of deadly force, including George Floyd, and undermining the progress that many of us were trying to make in regards to pushing for police accountability,” Levy Armstrong said.
Teresa Nelson, legal director of the ACLU of Minnesota, said in a statement that Kroll’s actions led to the use of excessive force against protesters.
“This settlement achieves a much-needed goal: It takes Bob Kroll, a police leader and union head with a long history of racist and inflammatory statements, off the beat and out of police leadership in the Twin Cities metro for a decade,” Nelson said.
The plaintiffs in this case and another that was merged with it settled with the city of Minneapolis for $600,000 in November. That agreement banned Minneapolis police from using physical force against people engaged in lawful assemblies.