The Slatest

Local News Station Reports People Who Pose for Pictures Are in Gangs

A Minneapolis news channel has a serious question: Why would the mayor of the city flash gang signs while taking a picture with a convicted criminal? Yes, KSTP, why? The answer to that question is actually pretty predictable—the mayor didn’t. The faux news story, however, is now a news story of its own dubbed #pointergate.

Here’s what Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges did do—she took a picture with a black constituent, Navell Gordon. In the picture, both Hodges and Gordon are arm-in-arm, pointing. That was enough for KSTP reporter Jay Kolls, who proceeds to weave an outlandish gang-related yarn complete with “fuming” law enforcement who think the mayor has “put the public and police at risk.”

“The fact that they’re flashing gang signs back-and-forth at each other, showing solidarity with the gangs, she’s legitimizing what they’re doing,” Michael Quinn, a retired Minneapolis cop, said in an interview during the KSTP story. “Law enforcement sources tell us they found this photo on the man’s Facebook page while they were doing investigative work. They say there’s no evidence he belongs to a gang, but they say he has connections to gang members,” KSTP reporter Jay Kolls “reports.”

The photo was taken while Hodges and Gordon, an organizer at Neighborhoods Organizing for Change were canvassing before Tuesday’s election. The story even compelled the mayor to issue a statement. From the Star-Tribune:

Hodges’ office said Friday that the mayor and Gordon were simply pointing at one another in the photo. They also released their statement to KSTP, which said the canvassing included people from all walks of life. “It was a diverse group, including people who have made mistakes in their past,” the statement said. “The more supportive that we all can be of people who are making better choices now, the better off we all will be in the future.”

And then—inevitably—came the #pointergate meme:

*This post has been updated.