For Immediate Release
From NAACP Minneapolis
Media Contact: President, Jason Sole, 651-983-0982, firstname.lastname@example.org
Minneapolis NAACP denounces Burnsville Police for accepting Brett Levin’s resignation
On Thursday, Brett Levin resigned his position as a Burnsville police officer, after admitting in court that he had exchanged racist texts with the man who shot five black protesters outside the Fourth Precinct last year. Levin has been friends with Allen “Lance” Scarsella since high school; Lance is currently on trial facing seven felony counts including first degree assault. Scarsella called his friend Levin, then a Mankato cop, the night of the shooting, and Levin advised him to turn himself in. Six months later, Levin was on the force in Burnsville.
The Minneapolis NAACP denounces the decision by Burnsville police to simply allow Levin to resign. Apparently they consider the matter closed; we do not. We call for an immediate and thorough investigation into Levin’s record as a police officer.
Police departments in Minnesota have differing standards for professional conduct. All departments should clearly include the use of racist language as justifiable cause for discipline up to the termination of employment. When Minneapolis police chief Janee Harteau fired two officers for using racist and homophobic slurs while off duty, she noted that their actions were “damaging and hurtful” to the black and LGBT communities and shameful to the department as a whole. Burnsville police should have initiated termination proceedings against Levin immediately after he admitted to exchanging racist texts with Scarsella. The public also deserves a complete picture of the interaction between Scarsella and Levin. Was Levin involved in (or aware of) the planning stages of Scarsella’s assault on protesters?
Mankato and Burnsville police must now re-investigate all cases involving Levin to check for a pattern of bias in the performance of his duties. Did he disproportionately ticket black drivers? Will his arrests of black suspects all still hold up to independent scrutiny given his admitted racist attitudes? How will these departments screen current and future officers to identify other embedded white supremacists?
Statewide, the Minnesota minimum selection standards for peace officer licensure, established by the POST board, do not explicitly label racist speech or actions as disqualifying. A clause should be added stating that “Demonstrated bias which might adversely affect the performance of peace officer duties is grounds for revocation of licensure.” Racist officers must not be able to move from department to department; they must be barred from serving altogether.
Cameron Clark, one of the victims shot by Scarsella, said that allowing Levin to resign allows him to be rehired by another department willing to turn a blind eye to his racist views. “If a black man is charged with a felony conviction, he can’t get a decent job but white cops who use their power to oppress can remain in uniform. There are white supremacists who have been given a badge and a gun. Just look at the connection in this case.”