Minn. city removing name of racist sheriff who permitted Klan meetings in the county  

Earle Brown owned the farm that later became the Village of Brooklyn Center in 1911. He also served two terms as the sheriff of Hennepin County.

The city council of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, has passed a resolution to rename the city-owned convention and event center, which was previously named for an early resident who was known for his racist ideologies. 

The Earle Brown Heritage Center is now the Heritage Center of Brooklyn Center, the Star Tribune is reporting.

“Making a change to the name because it is offensive to members of our community is a prudent move,” City Council Member Kris Lawrence-Anderson said at a recent council meeting. “As a human being he may have done things we don’t agree with, and yet he did things our community can be proud of. Let’s not forget the past but learn from it and move forward.”

Minnesota’s recently renamed Heritage Center of Brooklyn Center was previously known as the Earle Brown Heritage Center. (Photo courtesy of The Heritage Center of Brooklyn Center)

Brooklyn Center is the same city where 21-year-old Daunte Wright was shot and killed during a traffic stop by former police officer Kim Potter. This week, the Wright family reached a $3.25 million settlement with the city in connection with his death.

The shooting was referenced in the resolution, according to the Star Tribune. It reads in part, “The revelations with regard to Earle Brown generated a great deal of discussion and concern in the City, particularly in the context of efforts similar to the renaming of Lake Calhoun in the City of Minneapolis to Lake Bde Mka Ska and subsequent to the shooting of Daunte Wright on April 11, 2021.” 

According to the Star Tribune, Brown owned the farm which later became the Village of Brooklyn Center in 1911. He also served two terms as the sheriff of Hennepin County and was a founder of the Minnesota State Patrol in 1929. He ran for governor in 1932 but was defeated.

In recent years it has come to light that during his tenure as sheriff, Brown did nothing to stop the KKK from terrorizing residents, which included burning crosses and holding meetings in the county. 

The renaming of the center is not the first instance of Brown’s name being removed from a community building or event — an elementary school and an annual summer celebration have already done so.

It will cost the city about $165,800 to introduce the new name of the facility with new signs and a logo, and $43,000 to repaint the city’s water tower and create other marketing materials. 

— TheGrio freelance general assignment reporter Biba Adams contributed to this article.

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and Android TV. Also, please download theGrio mobile apps today!