USJD finds that MPD engaged in Systemic Racially Biased Policing and Unlawful Use of Force

The US Justice Department recently released its report on its investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, initiated after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer aided and abetted by at least three additional officers, and the report cited significant findings of major systemic issues and problems including racially biased policing, repeated misconduct, frequent use of unlawful force and mismanagement and lack of discipline in policing itself.

Here are some of the specific findings directly from the report:

  • There is “reasonable cause to believe” that MPD officers engaged in a “pattern or practice of conduct that deprives people of their rights under the Constitution and federal law.”
  • There is evidence that MPD engaged in unlawful discrimination against Black and Native American people, stating in the report that the MPD “patrols differently based on the racial composition of the neighborhood, without a legitimate, related safety rationale.”
  • Of the 19 MPD shootings between January 2016 and August 2022, “a significant portion of them were unconstitutional uses of deadly force,”. In most instances MPD officers had started shooting“without first determining whether there was an immediate threat of harm to the officers or others.”
  • Former MPD Officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering  Mr. Floyd’s death, had repeatedly used excessive force before, and was, as in other cases of MPD officers who also used unlawful force regularly, was not disciplined but sent for counseling which did not require formal reporting. And, as also was the pattern in the MPD, in the previous cases where Chauvin used excessive and unlawful force, as was the case when George Floyd was murdered, “multiple other M.P.D. officers stood by” and did nothing stop him”. Not one officer intervened. Note that in Season 1 Episode 12 of The ARCC of Change Podcast titled “Anti-Racism and the Police” I talk about this toxic culture in many US police forces of not intervening or reporting (or “snitching”) when other officers abuse suspects or people they stop, by profiling former 19-year Buffalo, NY police veteran Cariole Horne who refused to abide by this toxic norm and physically intervened when her partner was choking a suspect to death – saving the man’s life, and for her heroism she was fired. Listen to this episode here:

As a result of the report, the US Justice Department is expected to institute and enforce a Consent Decree, which is a legally binding agreement between the federal government and a city, in this case Minneapolis where the city’s police department violated federal law, which mandates oversight and tracking of results to ensure reforms and changes are adopted to transform the culture of the MPD and address the issues, patterns and problems that led to the department systematically violating people’s constitutional and civil rights and mismanagement of its own officers. Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights also investigated the Minneapolis Police Department and released its findings in April 2022  and had consistent findings to the federal report citing that MPD officers among tother things “consistently use racist, misogynistic, and otherwise disrespectful language.”  The Minnesota State Department of Human Rights has negotiated “a court enforceable agreement” with the city to also mandate and oversee that changes in the MPD are made and will coordinate with the US Justice Department to ensure this agreement is complementary to the Consent Decree.

This report and Consent Decree actions are a good sign, but unfortunately for many people in Minneapolis, like George Floyd and many others whose names we don’t even know, is not new information and came many years too late.  The black and brown residents of Minneapolis have experienced some of the worst disparities in America for decades, ranging from education, employment, wealth creation and home ownership to racial profiling, disproportionate policing and sentencing and police use of deadly force and shootings of unarmed people.  Hopefully, the next step is to investigate the St. Paul Police Department, as the perception of the SPDP is not much different than MPD, and, in fact, many residents of St. Paul would say the racist policing and misconduct is even worse than Minneapolis.  What we can also hope for, is that these findings wake-up people up across the state and country to the fact that racially biased policing is real and is not isolated to the George Floyd murder and that PD cultural changes, training, strong oversight and reform is needed in many cities across the US and that tools like Consent Decrees if followed through, and learnings are implemented from the cities where they have had success and where they have not, will generate positive change, help eradicate systemic racism and ultimately save lives.  The key is acknowledging that racially biased policing is a real problem and aligning as communities, states and as a country to stand up, speak out and take action and do something about it is absolutely critical. Lives depend on it.

For additional reading on the USJD report, check out his New York Times article:

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