Two police officers have been placed on leave after 'racist' Christmas tree display sparks outrage

The Minneapolis police department has placed two of its officers on leave after a Christmas tree display was deemed racist.

According to the Star Tribune, the controversy began when a photo was shared on social media showing the Christmas tree at the Fourth Precinct station adorned with “a Newport cigarette pack, a can of Steel Reserve malt liquor, police tape, a bag of Takis and a cup from Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.”

The image was widely denounced, with prominent civil rights figure Ron Edwards calling it “a modern-day version of a dog whistle, tainted with racism, specifically against the African-American community.”

Though the entire tree has since been taken down, WCCO reports, the offensive items have stirred resentments from the community which was rocked by the police shooting death of Jamar Clark in 2015.

The city’s mayor Jacob Frey quickly blasted the so-called decorations, saying, in part: “This behavior is racist, despicable, and is well beneath the standards of any person who serves the city of Minneapolis. The offending party will be fired before the day is over.”

However, he later backtracked somewhat, stating: “We have a process that we are required to go through by law, but yes, that is my opinion about where the process should go.”

Meanwhile, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo has said that he is “ashamed and appalled by the behavior” and confirmed a full investigation is underway.

Related: See the White House's Christmas decorations: