Minneapolis Police Department engaged in racial discrimination, state says

The investigation was spurred by the death of George Floyd in May 2020.

April 27, 2022, 1:02 PM

Following an almost two-year investigation, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights found that the city of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department engaged in a pattern or practice of race discrimination in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

The human rights agency said Wednesday it will work with the city to develop a consent decree -- "a court-enforceable agreement that identifies specific changes to be made and timelines for those changes to occur."

The investigation found racial disparities in how "MPD officers use force, stop, search, arrest, and cite people of color; in MPD officers' use of covert social media to surveil Black individuals and Black organizations, unrelated to criminal activity; MPD officers' consistent use of racist, misogynistic, and disrespectful language."

These conclusions were made after investigators sat through hundreds of hours of camera footage, official interviews with officers, experts and witnesses, and read through thousands of pages in documents and materials.

PHOTO: Black Lives Matter protesters and families members of Dolal Idd gathered in downtown Minneapolis, Minn., on Jan. 9, 2021, to protest the police killing of Dolal Idd during a sting operation in Dec., 2020.
Black Lives Matter protesters and families members of Dolal Idd gathered in downtown Minneapolis, Minn., on Jan. 9, 2021, to protest the police killing of Dolal Idd during a sting operation in Dec., 2020.
NurPhoto via Getty Images, FILE

The Department of Human Rights said it will meet with community members, MPD officers, city officials and others to get feedback in preparation for the consent decree to address racial discrimination in policing in the city.

The investigation is aimed at determining whether MPD engages in a pattern or practice of racial discrimination in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, the state's civil rights law.

The human rights department filing came shortly after the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, by then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin was convicted of the killing April 20, 2021.

"Community leaders have been asking for structural change for decades," Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said in June 2020 during the department's announcement. "They have fought for this and it is essential that we acknowledge the work and the commitment of those who have paved the path to make today's announcement possible."

PHOTO: Members of the Minneapolis Police Department monitor a protest on June 11, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minn.
Members of the Minneapolis Police Department monitor a protest on June 11, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minn.
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images, FILE

Attorney Ben Crump and co-counsels Antonio Romanucci and Jeff Storms, the legal team that represents Floyd's family, called the findings "historic."

"We hope this leads to placing the city and the police department under a state-ordered consent decree, which would give us assurance, at last, that real change in policing is possible, and Minneapolis can become a safer city for its Black residents," they said in a statement.

It continued, "We call on city, state, and Police leaders to accept the challenge of these findings and make meaningful change at last to create trust between communities of color in Minneapolis and those who are sworn to protect and serve them."

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department also opened a pattern or practice investigation into the city of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department in 2021. That investigation is still ongoing.

The Department of Human Rights obtained a temporary court order from Hennepin County District Court in June 2020 that forced the city of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department to implement immediate policy changes.

MPD was required to ban chokeholds, officers were required to report or intervene in unauthorized use of force by other officers, get police chief approval on crowd control weapon use and more.

Since the start of the human rights investigation, groups like the Minnesota Justice Center, the Policing Project at NYU Law and the Minneapolis Foundation have offered recommendations for MPD in independent reviews on the department.

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