MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – A spokeswoman for Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges says a photo gaining attention on social media shows the mayor and a community activist pointing at each other, not flashing a gang sign.
Spokeswoman Kate Brickman responded Friday after a KSTP-TV report aired Thursday night quoting a former Minneapolis police officer saying the Nov. 1 photo shows the mayor and a community activist flashing a known gang sign.
This is an excerpt from the KSTP-TV report:
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has obtained a photo of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges posing with a convicted felon while flashing a known gang sign.
The man in the photo is a twice-convicted felon for drug selling and possession and illegal possession of a firearm. He is currently sentenced to five years at the St. Cloud Correctional Facility, with the prison term stayed for three years while he is under supervised probation until 2016. If he violates terms of his probation during that time, he will serve the five years behind bars.
The report was swiftly criticized on social media, with some tweets ridiculing it and showing photos of other high-profile people using similar hand gestures.
KSTP News Director Lindsay Radford said Friday that unnamed law-enforcement sources alerted the station to the photo, saying it could jeopardize officers’ safety, and others from multiple law enforcement agencies said the same. A police spokesman declined comment Friday.
Navell Gordon is the man pictured in the photo with the mayor. He is a worker at Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. He was helping with a get-out-the-vote event when the photo was taken.
In this YouTube video Gordon says, “I made some mistakes in life. I can’t vote, I’m not ashamed to say that. I’m working on fixing that right now so I can be able to vote for my next president, do you understand?”
The reaction on Twitter has been interesting. People have been posting photos of other notable figures posing while pointing. The hashtag people are using is #Pointergate.