Emails between KSTP-TV reporter Jay Kolls and Minneapolis mayoral communications director Kate Brickman, which were requested by NOC staff and released by the mayor's office, reveal further evidence of slander against Navell Gordon, the man posing with Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges in a photo which spawned "#Pointergate." KSTP claimed the two were flashing gang signs in the picture.
In the emails, Kolls refers to Navell Gordon as a “known gang member,” flashing “signs of the Stick Up Boys,” and goes so far as to accuse him as being “a suspect in last weekend’s shooting in Brooklyn Center.” His emails refer to Gordon as a “known bad guy, real bad guy.”
You can view Kolls' emails to the mayor's office in advance of the November 6 story here and his latest email with allegations from November 19 here.
Kolls references local law enforcement agencies, noting "Police officers and gang unit guys, where this photo is now circulating throughout law enforcement, are angry about it. They tell me it undermines their work and gives legitimacy to the gangs." Kolls goes on to make further accusations of Mr. Gordon by asking, "Will the Mayor explain why it was done with a guy with an extensive criminal record who obviously has some connection to established gangs?" These emails directly contradict KSTP's insistence that the story was only about the mayor's judgment.
In Kolls’ now infamous piece, he takes a different position and claims that there is no evidence that Gordon belongs to a gang, but he has “connections” to gangs. Later that night on Twitter he went on to call him a “gangbanger” and posed such questions as “If he is leaving gang life, why the sign in that photo?”
Kolls’ unsubstantiated remarks were sent to the mayor’s office in advance of the now infamous clip that sparked national conversation about race and media accountability. Jay Kolls' unsubstantiated framing proves a direct intent to discredit Mr. Gordon and reinforces a recent pattern of reckless behavior of ABC affiliate KSTP. Kolls' latest email to the mayor's office, received this Wednesday, continues to double down on flimsy accusations against Mr. Gordon.
Mr. Gordon helped lead get-out-the-vote canvassing in underrepresented communities in the Twin Cities this year through Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. He is currently unable to vote because he is serving probation for a nonviolent felony, but encourages others to vote and looks forward to voting in the 2016 presidential election when his probation is done, as he describes on a now-viral video. He has worked as a NOC organizer for the past two electoral cycles and has repeatedly denied involvement in gang activity or violent crime.
"I want to thank everyone who's supported me," said Mr. Gordon in response to the latest allegations. "This whole thing has been shocking to me but I continue to grow and change my life. It's crazy to me that I'm being accused of being some big gang member, but I won't stop doing good work. I love my job, I love my new daughter and I'm gonna continue doing what I have to do to restore my right to vote and improve my life."
"This country has a long history of slandering black men in order to advance a political agenda, but this is the most egregious example I've ever seen," said Anthony Newby, executive director of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. "It's beyond offensive that KSTP is continuing to stand by Jay Kolls. Navell has been very open about his past non-violent record and has been a valued employee and community voice. Since KSTP refuses to apologize but continues to double down, we call on all KSTP's sponsors to follow UCare's lead and take a stand against racist and shoddy journalism by pulling their ads."