All eyes have been on the Minneapolis Police Department following the killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day. As tensions flared across the United States, Minneapolis Chief of Police Medaria Arradondo has become one of the central figures tasked with delivering justice to an outraged community.
“Mr. Floyd died in our hands and so I see that as being complicit. Silence and inaction, you’re complicit. If there was one solitary voice that would have intervened… that’s what I would have hoped for.”
Arradondo was interviewed at the scene of Floyd’s death, saying he was there to “pay respects.” He also spoke briefly with members of Floyd’s family and revealed his immediate reaction to seeing the brutal video of Floyd’s death, describing it as “emotional” and a feeling he had never felt before in his career.
“I did not need days or weeks or months or processes or bureaucracies to tell me what occurred out here last Monday was wrong.”
After a week that saw his hometown in flames — and the reputation of his police department in question — Arradondo’s course of action will define his department’s relationship with Minneapolis. His reaction to the furor may also impact the relationship between police and the black community across the country.
Arradondo Has Been With The Minneapolis Police Department Since 1989
“Anyone who would set fire to a person’s livelihood and business… They do not love this city. And I would certainly not call them a Minneapolitan. We will do everything we can to PROTECT our city and our businesses.” -Chief Medaria Arradondo #MACCMN pic.twitter.com/LDrkoBGOkI— Minneapolis Police (@MinneapolisPD) May 31, 2020
Arradondo is a fifth-generation Minnesotan, growing up in Minneapolis’ north side and attending Roosevelt High School, according to an interview with Mpls St. Paul Magazine. After high school, he would graduate from Metropolitan State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and Concordia University with a master’s degree in human services.
Arradondo’s career with the Minneapolis Police Department began in 1989, working as a patrol officer in the city’s Fourth Precinct. He worked his way up the ranks, taking roles such as school resource officer, the commander of Internal Affairs, and inspector for the city’s First Precinct. Arradondo also served as an assistant chief in 2015 — when the department was embroiled in controversy following the police shooting of Jamar Clark.
During his extensive career with the department, he has not been afraid to hold his employers to account, particularly on racial issues. In 2007, he and four other officers sued the city of Minneapolis, alleging they were victims of systemic racial discrimination and a hostile working environment, per USA Today. He and his four co-prosecutors received a $740,000 settlement.
Arradondo Was The First Black Chief Of The Minneapolis Police Department
“We will meet this challenge TOGETHER. We will again see the luster and shine and the humanity that really sets us apart as the city of Minneapolis.” -Chief Medaria Arradondo pic.twitter.com/BtV0rZnMlR— Minneapolis Police (@MinneapolisPD) May 31, 2020
Following the police shooting of Justine Damond in 2017 — and the resignation of former police chief Janee Harteau — Arradondo was appointed to the role of chief by former Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges. This made him the first black chief of the Minneapolis Police Department. Upon his appointment, Hodges was hopeful that Arradondo would be able to rehabilitate a police department that was plagued with controversy.
“What’s needed at this time is someone who is good at making change and helping usher people through change, which Arradondo has done and is doing.”
The aftermath of Floyd’s death has seen Arradondo act quickly, firing all four officers involved. The officer responsible for restraining Floyd, Derek Chauvin, has been charged. Raeisha Williams — a community activist and former marketing director for the Minnesota chapter of the NAACP — commended him for his decision, per NBC.
“That was a brave step to recommend charging these officers. That kind of thing doesn’t happen in Minnesota.”
While he has received criticism for moving too slowly in his reforms and efforts to remove racist officers from the department, Arradondo has also received support for his response. Williams pointed out the police department’s interactions in terms of the recent riots.
“I am 100 percent sure some of those protesters would be dead if anybody else was running the police department. He is very much aware that there is racial injustice and that there is white supremacy in the police department.”