Top Republican won't say if Minneapolis police union head should resign: 'It's a union decision'

The top Republican in Minnesota government would not say Friday if the embattled Minneapolis police union president should resign, calling it a "union decision."

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka confirmed that he had conversations with Lt. Bob Kroll during last week's unrest in Minneapolis and St. Paul about how to get rioting under control. The unrest started after the May 25 death of George Floyd after a now-fired Minneapolis officer held him to the ground by putting his knee on Floyd's neck for several minutes.

Kroll, who has repeatedly taken controversial public stances on Minneapolis issues and stood on stage at a President Donald Trump rally last fall, has said little publicly since Floyd's death. Democratic politicians, including House Speaker Melissa Hortman, have called on him to resign. DFL-associated unions have echoed those calls.

"I think it's an internal thing that they (the union) need to do," Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, told reporters. "I don't know his complete history. I know six conversations that I've had with him."

Gazelka said he initially reached out to Kroll via text message last week at the request of Gov. Tim Walz during the unrest. The next day, Gazelka called Kroll.

"The conversation with Bob Kroll was desperation on my part for the governor to do something," Gazelka said. "Because nothing was happening and the city of Minneapolis and surrounding communities were burning."

In a letter to his membership this week, Kroll claimed -- without providing evidence -- that the Republican-controlled Senate was "going to try and run the actions that the governor displayed he is clearly incompetent to do."

Gazelka said any talk of a coup attempt was "not true."

Kroll has not responded to multiple messages from FOX 9 seeking comment.

This week, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights launched a civil rights investigation against the Minneapolis Police Department, with plans to look back 10 years to find evidence of "systemic discrimination" against people of color. 

Hundreds of buildings in Minneapolis and St. Paul were damaged or looted over four days of unrest following Floyd's death. In St. Paul, four buildings were destroyed by fire and at least another 14 will require major repairs before reopening, city officials have said.

Four former Minneapolis officers have now been charged in Floyd's death. Derek Chauvin faces a second-degree murder charge, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane face two counts of aiding and abetting.