MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota made international headlines in 2017, but it wasn’t from stories that made all residents proud. From fatal police shootings, to Sen. Al Franken’s abrupt resignation, here are 12 of the year’s most controversial stories.
The police chief in Coon Rapids apologized for an incident involving one of the department’s police dogs biting an 81-year-old grandmother in February.
“It’s regrettable that this old woman was injured,” Chief Brad Wise said. “We’re sick about it. The officers that were there were sick about it.”
Brothers Abdullah Alrifahe and Majid Alrifahe were arrested on May 11 in Minneapolis.
Police searched their vehicle and found a loaded AK-47, another rifle, a handgun, a grenade, large amounts of ammunition, and what would later be identified as bomb-making materials, including a drone.
Just one week before the grand re-opening of its Sculpture Garden in May, the Walker Art Center apologized for installing a large piece called “Scaffold,” by artist Sam Durant.
It is a piecing together of various gallows used in U.S. history, with its main inspiration being the 1862 Mankato gallows — site of the largest mass execution in U.S. history.
Native American groups expressed outrage, and “Scaffold” was later dismantled.
After days of deliberation, a jury has found Jeronimo Yanez, the St. Anthony police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop in July of 2016, not guilty of second-degree manslaughter in the school cafeteria worker’s death.
Four days after attorney’s made closing arguments, a jury decided Friday that the 29-year-old police officer was not guilty of “culpable negligence” in Castile’s death. The officer would’ve faced up to a decade in prison.
Belle Plaine got a lot of attention last summer for a Satanic monument that was to be installed in Veterans Memorial Park.
The monument featured an upturned helmet atop a black cube that was built by a group of Satanists out of Massachusetts.
It was be the first Satanic monument on public property in United States history.
Two people were arrested in July after a severely-decomposed body was discovered inside of a garage on St. Paul’s east side.
Police say they were called to a residence on the 600 block of Lawson Avenue Friday at 3 p.m., where they found the body of an adult, later identified as 47-year-old Allan Bishara Aguilar of St. Paul.
John Michael Erickson, 49, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder, and 47-year-old Patricia Dawn Yucker was arrested on suspicion of interfering with a dead body.
The debate over how schools should handle transgender students got heated in July after the Minnesota Department of Education created guidelines for the state’s K-12 public schools.
More than 200 supporters and opponents of a proposed “transgender tool kit” showed up to a meeting at the Minnesota Department of Education to share their opinions, and each side had strong views.
A Minneapolis police officer shot and killed an Australian woman in July, sparking international outrage.
Justine Damond called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in her alley. When officer arrived, she greeted their squad car — and was shot by Officer Mohamed Noor.
A new report released in August claimed Minnesota was among the worst states in America for racial inequality.
The website 24/7 Wall Street listed Minnesota as the second-most unequal state in the country behind Wisconsin.
Neighboring states South Dakota finished third, Illinois was fourth and Iowa was fifth.
The owner of the Minneapolis bar Club Jäger had all of his employees walk out on him in late August after it was revealed that he had donated money to the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
Julius DeRoma told WCCO his $500 donation to David Duke’s senate campaign was “basically free speech.” He also called the controversy blown up beyond what it should be. Club Jäger closed soon after.
A farmer who stopped by his house in the middle of his work shift ended up finding a missing 15-year-old girl from Alexandria in September.
Police say a family acquaintance and two other men assaulted her in various locations for nearly one month.
She was able to escape after the men left her alone in a foreclosed property in rural Grant County, swimming across a lake to freedom.
Following weeks of accusations made against him, Sen. Al Franken has announced in early December that he was stepping down at the end of the year.
Several women accused him of sexual misconduct, with most of the alleged incidents taking place before he was a United States Senator.
“I of all people am aware that there is some irony that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape that his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,” Franken said.