Protesters shout down mayor, take over news conference

Mpls. Mayor Betsy Hodges scheduled a news conference to announce the resignation of her police chief, but was forced to bail out when protesters shouted her down.

MINNEAPOLIS - Dozens of protesters crashed a news conference by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, shouting her down and forcing her to abandon the podium.

"Bye bye Betsy!" protesters yelled over and over, derailing the mayor's attempt to publicly announce the resignation of Police Chief Janee Harteau at Hodges' request, and her appointment of Assistant Chief Medaria Arradondo as the new leader of the department.

The uprising was led by John Thompson, friend of slain motorist Philando Castile, who demanded that Hodges resign her post, as well. Activists from a number of other organizations also shouted their support, preventing the mayor from making her major announcement.

Hodges repeatedly tried to calm the protestors, but to no avail.

"I hear and understand people's objections, I am willing to sit down with you and talk about the future of policing in Minneapolis," she said. But activists would have none of it.

"Bye Bye Betsy," they began yelling again, until the mayor turned and left the room.

At that point, protesters took turns stepping to the microphone, talking about needing more than a change in faces, but a completely different system. After about 15 minutes of different people speaking, the group left City Hall. 

Roughly 30 minutes later, with the protesters having left the scene, Hodges returned to the podium to finish her press conference. 

At that point, she reiterated her position that this was the direction the city and its police force needed to go in. 

She also addressed the protester interruption, saying, despite the request, she will not be resigning. 

"It is understandable to me that people's frustration is high," she said. "I share that frustration."

© 2017 KARE-TV


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