Minnesota human rights investigation reveals pattern of racist law enforcement by Minneapolis Police Department


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On Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights criticized the city of Minneapolis and its police department for what it described as a “pattern or practice of racial discrimination in violation of human rights law. ‘man from Minnesota’.

The recently published findings of a investigation of nearly two years in the Minneapolis Police Department – ​​an investigation launched days after the May 2020 police murder of George Floyd — paint a stunning portrait of an agency with a culture of animosity toward people of color.

In reviewing body camera videos and disciplinary records, and interviewing community members and officers, investigators reported finding a litany of racist and misogynistic slurs uttered by officers against suspects, members of the community and even other colleagues.

“It’s going to take a lot of work for a lot of people to get out of this,” Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero told reporters on Wednesday of the behaviors her office found after reviewing Last 10 years of police reports and data. and conduct several interviews.

“Race-based policing is illegal and harms everyone, especially people of color and members of the Indigenous community, sometimes costing community members their lives,” she said.

Among the troubling behaviors and comments, the report found:

  • MPD agents used secret social media accounts to impersonate members of the black community to criticize city officials and NAACP members. This social media work was not part of any criminal investigation, Lucero said.
  • MPD officers are more likely to use harsher force against blacks than whites in similar circumstances, and treat blacks and whites differently in traffic stops because of their race.
  • The department teaches an “aggression-focused” approach to policing, helping to create a “culture that results in unnecessary escalation and/or excessive force when encountering community members of all racial backgrounds. “.
  • “The MPD maintains an organizational culture where officers consistently use racist, misogynistic and otherwise disrespectful language” against suspects and community members, and when this behavior appears on body camera video, it makes prosecutions more difficult “and therefore undermines the criminal justice system.”
  • An officer investigating a sexual assault case reportedly said a man could not be guilty of rape if he and his victim had children together.

The commissioner also faulted “former and current city and MPD leaders” who she said did not act with the urgency needed to address racial disparities in policing.

City and police leaders told the Department of Human Rights that they have been thwarted in their efforts to combat race-based policing in Minneapolis due to “legal or practice limitations imposed by collective agreements, the arbitration system or city council funding decisions”.

“What Black People Have Been Saying For Decades”

Speaking to reporters later in the day, Amelia Huffman, the acting head of the MPD, called the report’s findings “deeply concerning” but said the department had been pursuing reforms for two years and that would continue.

Saray Garnett-Hochuli, director of regulatory services for the city, said the report’s findings on racism within the police department didn’t surprise her or other black people.

“What hurts me about this is that we needed a report to validate what black people have been saying for decades,” she said, noting that her father told her about his experience. with the police and prejudice.

“I see this as truly transformational change,” she said of the report. “I’m not interested in the change on the surface. I go deep and I go to the root.

Lucero said Wednesday his agency will work with the city on a consent decree to identify specific changes that need to be made to policing.

Some changes were made after Floyd’s murder. In June 2020, a judge ordered the Minneapolis Police Department to implement immediate changes, including a ban on neck restraints and chokeholds.

However, Lucero’s office found that MPD officers said the department “provided no substantive training to officers” on the prohibition of neck restraint and strangulation until further notice. one year after its establishment.

The state’s human rights investigation is distinct from a A US Department of Justice investigation launched last year which examines discrimination within the Minneapolis Police Department and whether it engages in unlawful policing, including during protests.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said officials would review the Minnesota report and consider the findings as part of the federal investigation, though she noted the DOJ was looking at issues beyond the discriminatory police.

Since 2003, the city of Minneapolis has paid out more than $80 million in settlements, judgments and claims stemming from allegations of police misconduct.

Two settlements account for the bulk of the money the city paid. The $20 million settlement with the family of Justine Ruszczyk, an unarmed 911 caller shot dead by officer Mohamed Noor in 2017, and the payment of $27 million to the family of George Floyd in 2021.

Watch Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero discuss her agency’s report on patterns of racism within the MPD:

Watch Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and city leaders talk about the findings of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights:


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