St. Paul, Minn.
The Minneapolis Police Department has engaged in a pattern of racial discrimination for at least a decade, including stopping and arresting black people at a higher rate than white people, using force more often against people of color and maintaining a culture where racist language is tolerated. , a state investigation launched after the murder of George Floyd has come to light.
The report released Wednesday by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights following a nearly two-year investigation said the agency and the city would negotiate a court-binding agreement to address the long list of issues. identified in the report, with input from residents, officers, municipal staff and others.
The report states that data from police departments “demonstrates significant racial disparities in officers’ use of force, traffic stops, searches, citations and arrests.” And he said officers “used covert social media to monitor black individuals and black organizations, unrelated to criminal activity, and maintain an organizational culture where some officers and supervisors use racist, misogynistic and disrespectful language in all impunity”.
Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero told a news conference after the report was released that it did not mention any city officers or leaders.
“This investigation is not about an individual or an incident,” Ms. Lucero said.
When asked how long the agreement with the city, known as the consent decree, might need to remain in effect, Ms Lucero replied: “As long as it takes to get it right.” Neither she nor the report set a timetable for the negotiations. Consent decrees in federal cases often remain in place for years.
The report says the city and police department “need not wait to institute immediate changes to begin addressing the causes of discrimination that weaken the city’s public safety system and harm members.” from the community “. He lists several steps the city can take now, including implementing stronger internal controls to hold officers accountable for their conduct, better training, and better communication with the public about critical incidents such as shootings involving agents.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said he was troubled by the report and pledged to work with the state to make the necessary changes.
“I found the content repugnant, sometimes horrific,” Mr. Frey said at a press conference. “It made me sick and outraged, and I think our community feels the same. … I spoke with leaders in our black community this morning, and they are not at all surprised. They have been saying it for years, decades and generations.
Acting Police Chief Amelia Huffman told reporters the points raised in the report are “deeply concerning to everyone.” But she said her department had made progress on reforms in the two years since the investigation began and would not wait to make further changes.
“We are committed to providing effective constitutional policing, the service that people in our community want, need and deserve,” Ms. Huffman said.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and his partners, who won a $27 million city settlement for the Floyd family, called the report “historic” and “monumental in its significance.” They said they were “grateful and deeply optimistic” that change was imminent.
“We call on city, state and police leaders to accept the challenge of these findings and finally make meaningful changes to build trust between communities of color in Minneapolis and those who have sworn to protect them. and serve them,” the attorneys said in a statement.
Michelle Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality, called the finding “obvious”.
“The results weren’t a surprise, but now there’s an agency with the muscle to make these changes happen,” Ms. Gross said. She said a critical next step is who will monitor a consent decree to ensure the changes actually happen, and said she would require community members to participate. Ms. Gross said she was meeting with Ms. Lucero’s department on Thursday and that following up on an executive order would be high on her agenda.
The Department of Human Rights launched its investigation barely a week after Mr Floyd died on May 25, 2020. Then-officer Derek Chauvin used his knee to pin the black man to the sidewalk for 9½ minutes in a case that sparked protests. around the world against racism and police brutality. Mr. Chauvin, who is white, was convicted last spring of murder. Three other fired officers – Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng – were found guilty this year of violating Mr. Floyd’s civil rights in a federal trial and they will face a state trial in from June.
State investigators reviewed a decade of information, including data on traffic stops, searches, arrests and use of force, and examined policies and training. The review included approximately 700 hours of body camera video and nearly 480,000 pages of city and police department documents. Ms. Lucero said investigators interviewed officers across the department and “overwhelmingly, we found officers to be very open.” Investigators also invited citizens to submit their own stories of encounters with Minneapolis police.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is the state’s civil rights enforcement agency. His duties include enforcing the Minnesota Human Rights Act which, among other things, prohibits a police department from discriminating against someone because of their race.
“Race-based policing is illegal and particularly harmful to people of color and Indigenous people – sometimes costing community members their lives,” the report said.
People of color or Indigenous people make up about 42% of the city’s population, according to the report, while about 19% of the city’s residents are black.
The police department has come under pressure from multiple directions since Mr Floyd’s death. The US Department of Justice is also investigating police practices in Minneapolis, although it is not believed to be close to a conclusion.
Several city council members and residents have been pushing to replace the department with a new public safety unit that they believe could take a more comprehensive public health approach to policing, including cutting a number required minimum of police officers. Voters rejected the idea last year.
Mr. Frey and Chief Medaria Arradondo, before his retirement in January, also made a series of changes to department policies and practices, including requiring officers to document their attempts to defuse situations and no longer stopping motorists for minor traffic violations.
But community anger at the police erupted again in February when officers serving a no-knock warrant shot and killed Amir Locke, a 22-year-old black man who was staying on a sofa in his apartment. cousin. Prosecutors declined to charge the officer who shot Mr Locke, saying body camera video showed him pointing a gun at the officer, a claim his family disputed. The city has since banned no-knock warrants except in the most extreme circumstances, such as a hostage-taking.
This story was reported by the Associated Press. Mohamed Ibrahim is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.