Minnesota police guilty of racial discrimination: human rights dept
The Minnesota Police Department, whose police officers killed George Floyd and caused anti-racism protests across the United States, was found guilty of racial discrimination.
The city of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department have been found to have engaged in a pattern or practice of racial discrimination for more than a decade, which constitutes a violation of the Human Rights Act, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) said in a report on Wednesday.
"Following the murder of George Floyd, demands to end discriminatory policing practices reverberated across the world," MDHR Commissioner Rebecca Lucero highlighted in the report that came out on Wednesday.
She stressed that those demands remained as urgent with the announcement of the findings of a nearly 2-year investigation that revealed that the city and its police department were engaging in a pattern or practice of race discrimination.
The report underlines that policing in Minneapolis was conducted in a horrible manner, where according to State Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero Black residents represent about 19% of the population, yet 78% of all police searches from 2017 to 2020 involved Black residents and their vehicles.
Minneapolis Police Department data, the report notes, shows that during the time neck restraints were permitted under MPD policy, MPD officers were almost twice as likely to use neck restraints against Black individuals than white individuals who had been recorded by officers as behaving in the same way when interacting with police and who had been interacting with the police for the same alleged offenses or event.
These problems, the report underlined, stemmed from the MPD's organization culture and "deficient" training that "emphasizes a paramilitary approach to policing that results in officers unnecessarily escalating encounters or using inappropriate levels of force."
An expert review of the MPD's use of force files found that its officers used unnecessary and inappropriate levels of force. In 52.6% of incidents, they used neck restraint, and in 37.1% of incidents, they sprayed chemical irritants against individuals of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.
The report further deemed the department's accountability procedures "inefficient and ineffective," saying it had not done enough to address racial disparities.
The MDHR also said it had found that Black people, people of color, and Indigenous individuals were victims of excessive and violent force by police officers, which in some cases used deadly force.
Statistics show that of the 14 people killed by MPD officers since 2010, 13 were people of color or Indigenous individuals.
The report also cited "racial disparities in how MPD officers use force, stop, search, arrest, and cite people of color" in addition to officers' "use of covert social media to surveil Black individuals and Black organizations, unrelated to criminal activity."
The probe had first been announced in June 2020, soon after the murder of Goerge Floyd at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin. Footage showed Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly 10 minutes and sparked international outrage and protests across the US and the rest of the world calling for racial equality.
"Race-based policing is unlawful and harms everyone, especially people of color and Indigenous community members – sometimes costing community members their lives," Lucero said. "I look forward to the work ahead with the City, MPD, and community members to improve public safety by reversing unlawful policing practices," she added.
Three ex-policemen who were present at the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis denied the unarmed man his civil rights, according to findings by a jury.
The policemen were charged with expressing "deliberate indifference [Floyd's] serious medical needs" during the arrest that happened in May 2020, when Derek Chauvin kept kneeling on Floyd's neck while the latter couldn't breathe and soon died as a result.
Racism is deeply rooted in law enforcement in the United States, with police force brutality heavily affecting the Black community in the US.
In November 2021, Minneapolis voted not to dissolve and replace the police department.