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Minneapolis Police Department engaged in racial discrimination, state says

(MINNEAPOLIS) — 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.

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.”

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.

Following the announcement, the Department of Human Rights obtained a temporary court order from Hennepin County District Court 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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