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TV Report Accusing Mayor Of Gang Signs Prompts Online Ridicule In The Form Of #Pointergate

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges posed with a black volunteer and then all sorts of media hell broke loose.

Posted on November 7, 2014, at 6:02 p.m. ET

Minnesota television station KSTP aired a report on Thursday accusing Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges of “flashing gang signs” while posing alongside a convicted felon.

KSTP / Via kstp.com

The report cited law enforcement sources who were “fuming” over the photo, and stated that “officers believe the mayor has put the public and police at risk.”

The story’s online headline: “Mpls. Mayor Flashes Gang Sign with Convicted Felon; Law Enforcement Outraged."

Watch the report here:

As Talking Points Memo points out, the station’s report lacks a whole lot of context.

Navell Gordon, the "convicted felon" with whom the mayor was posing, was also a volunteer for the charity Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC).

On November 1, he and the mayor were with several NOC volunteers trying to get out the vote ahead of the Nov. 4 mid-term elections.

In a NOC video posted online, the exact moment the photograph was taken can be seen, with the "gang sign" seemingly nothing more than two people awkwardly posing together.

NOC / Via youtube.com

In the video, Gordon—who was convicted in 2011 of selling and possessing drugs, and in 2012 for illegally possessing a firearm—states his reasons for campaigning with NOC.

"I've made some mistakes in life, you know. I can't vote. I'm not ashamed to say that," Gordon said. "But I'm working on fixing that right now so I can be able to vote for my next president.”

In its report, KSTP states that law enforcement officials told the station that the gesture is a "known gang-sign from a north side gang."

Further, while some Minneapolis officers may have spoken with KSTP of their outrage, the report failed to mention that among those present when the photo was taken was the city’s police chief, Janee Harteau.

A Minneapolis Police tweet, seemingly since deleted but screengrabbed by Daily Kos, shows Harteu alongside Gordon.

Soon, Twitter was abuzz with the hashtag #pointergate, mocking KSTB for its report.

@KSTP BREAKING NEWS!!!! Bill Clinton is throwin up gang sign with known felon Nelson Mandela #pointergate

Police Clips@PoliceClipsFollow

@KSTP BREAKING NEWS!!!! Bill Clinton is throwin up gang sign with known felon Nelson Mandela #pointergate

2:58 PM - 07 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Breaking news from @KSTP: journalist finds a whole page of gang signs on his iPhone. #pointergate

Sean Anonymous@SeanAnonymousFollow

Breaking news from @KSTP: journalist finds a whole page of gang signs on his iPhone. #pointergate

3:02 PM - 07 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

#pointergate See, we should have stomped out these gang signs when we had the chance! @JayKollsKSTP

Popehat@PopehatFollow

#pointergate See, we should have stomped out these gang signs when we had the chance! @JayKollsKSTP

3:06 PM - 07 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

You get a gang. And you get a gang! And YOU get a gang! EVERYONE GETS A GANG!! #pointergate

Than Tibbetts @thanlandFollow

You get a gang. And you get a gang! And YOU get a gang! EVERYONE GETS A GANG!! #pointergate

9:37 AM - 07 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

In a statement online, KSTP stood by the story:

"Law enforcement sources alerted KSTP-TV to a photo they believed could jeopardize public safety and put their officers at risk, especially given the recent increase in gang violence. Multiple sources from several law enforcement agencies told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the photo had the potential for undermining the work they are doing on the streets. 5 Eyewitness News blurred the individual's face and did not name the group he was working for because police called into question only the judgment of Mayor Betsy Hodges."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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