- Associated Press - Thursday, November 13, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A small Minneapolis-based nonprofit has gained national attention after the city’s mayor was accused of flashing a gang sign when posing for a photo while door-knocking before the election.

Neighborhoods Organizing for Change was behind the get-out-the-vote event in which Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges participated. After the photo was posted on Facebook, KSTP-TV reported Minneapolis police were upset the mayor flashed a hand signal used by a northside gang. It caused an online uproar that’s been dubbed “Pointergate.”

A spokeswoman for the mayor said last week that the photo merely showed the mayor and Navell Gordon, an employee of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, pointing at each other while knocking on doors. She said the mayor has many photos on her Facebook page showing her making the same gesture with others. The station has said it stands by its report.

Executive Director Anthony Newby told Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/1xBemYQ ) his organization has since received donations from people across the country.

“There were folks from California, Washington, rural Maryland, Florida, Texas, Wisconsin,” he said. “So literally all across the country people are paying attention to the story and are donating.”



The organization has also gained social and political footing because of “Pointergate,” Newby said.

Neighborhoods Organizing for Change started several years ago with less than $100,000 in annual revenue. It currently has about $700,000 to fund a full-time staff of four employees, as well as a team of canvassers.

Hodges has close ties with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. Newby participated in her mayoral transition team and attended her inaugural address in January.

The mayor’s relationship with the police union may have been further strained because of her relationship with the organization. Members of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change have spoken out against the police department. Some of the group’s canvassers, including the man who posed in the photo with Hodges, have been victims of racial profiling, according to Newby.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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