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Prolonged Minneapolis Police Discrimination Culminated in George Floyd’s Death, Asserts DOJ

by Lucas Garcia
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Minneapolis Police Discrimination

Prolonged Minneapolis Police Discrimination Culminated in George Floyd’s Death, Asserts DOJ

In a stinging rebuke of Minneapolis law enforcement issued on Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice accused the local police force of systematic racial discrimination, frequently violating constitutional liberties, and consistently neglecting the safety of detainees, persisting for years prior to George Floyd’s tragic death.

The critique stemmed from a comprehensive two-year DOJ investigation that corroborated numerous public grievances regarding police behavior that surfaced post-Floyd’s demise in 2020. The probe discovered that Minneapolis officers had often employed excessive and even “unjustified deadly force,” and breached the rights of individuals expressing constitutionally protected free speech.

The DOJ concluded that the city and its law enforcement displayed discrimination against Black, Native American individuals and those suffering from “behavioral health disabilities.”

Despite acknowledging some Minneapolis Police Department officers for their professionalism and bravery, Attorney General Merrick Garland underscored that the observed systemic issues made George Floyd’s tragedy possible.

Garland observed that officers frequently ignored the safety of detainees, citing several instances where pleas for help by detainees claiming they couldn’t breathe were disregarded.

According to the report, the police routinely used dangerous methods and weaponry against individuals who at most had committed minor offenses, or even no offense at all. Officers often used force as a punitive measure against those who angered or criticized the police.

The police also displayed racial bias in their patrols, searches, handcuffing procedures, and use of force during stops, the report disclosed.

Following the investigation, the city and the police department agreed to a federal consent decree that mandates reforms under the supervision of an independent authority, approved by a federal judge. This strategy mirrors reform initiatives in other American cities including Seattle, New Orleans, Baltimore, and Ferguson, Missouri.

Police Chief Brian O’Hara pledged his department’s commitment to establishing a law enforcement agency deserving of every Minneapolis citizen, while Mayor Jacob Frey admitted the challenging path to change, saying it’s non-negotiable.

The DOJ’s unflinching report reflects Garland’s ambition to prioritize civil rights and nationwide policing. Parallel probes into police departments are currently active in Louisville, Phoenix, Memphis, and other cities.

The investigation into Minneapolis law enforcement was initiated in April 2021, just a day after Derek Chauvin, a white ex-officer, was found guilty of Floyd’s murder. Floyd, a Black man, had repeatedly gasped for air under Chauvin’s knee pressed onto his neck for over nine minutes.

The DOJ’s study of police practices dating back to 2016 found that officers sometimes discharged firearms without assessing immediate threats. From 2016 to 2022, police officers used neck restraints, like the one that resulted in Floyd’s death, nearly 200 times, including in 44 instances that didn’t necessitate an arrest.

The DOJ’s report also unveiled glaring racial disparities in traffic stops, with Black drivers 6.5 times more likely, and Native American drivers 7.9 times more likely, to be pulled over compared to white drivers.

Despite the ban on “no-knock” warrants and neck restraints post-Floyd’s death, the city continued to dispatch officers to 911 calls related to behavioral health, often with disastrous results, the report revealed.

These findings, grounded in document reviews, body camera footage, city and police data, and interactions with officers, residents, and others, paved the way for 28 “remedial” measures proposed by the DOJ to reform policing in preparation for the consent decree.

The mayor expressed the city’s preference for a single monitor to supervise both the federal plan and state agreement to avoid conflicting compliance evaluations.

Like Minneapolis, numerous police departments in other cities are governed by consent decrees, demanding agencies to achieve specific objectives before the lifting of federal oversight, a process that usually spans several years and costs millions of dollars.

George Floyd, 46, had been arrested for allegedly using counterfeit money to buy cigarettes. A confrontation with police led to his tragic demise. The officer responsible, Chauvin, was handed a 22.5-year sentence for murder, and an additional 21-year sentence for violating Floyd’s civil rights, which he’s serving in Tucson, Arizona.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Minneapolis Police Discrimination

What was the primary finding of the DOJ report about Minneapolis Police Department?

The primary finding of the DOJ report was that the Minneapolis Police Department systematically discriminated against racial minorities, frequently violated constitutional rights, and consistently neglected the safety of individuals in custody for years prior to George Floyd’s death.

What triggered the DOJ’s investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department?

The investigation was triggered following George Floyd’s death in 2020, with numerous citizen complaints about police misconduct prompting a comprehensive two-year probe.

What were some specific practices of the Minneapolis police that the DOJ report criticized?

The DOJ report criticized Minneapolis police for using excessive force, including “unjustified deadly force”, violating the rights of people engaging in constitutionally protected speech, and discriminating against Black and Native American individuals and those with behavioral health disabilities. The police were also accused of disregarding the safety of people in custody and using dangerous methods against individuals who committed minor or no offenses.

What is a federal consent decree, and how does it apply to this situation?

A federal consent decree is a legally binding agreement that a city or police department enters into, often to resolve findings of systemic misconduct or violation of citizens’ rights. In this case, following the DOJ investigation, the Minneapolis city and police department agreed to a federal consent decree, requiring them to implement reforms overseen by an independent monitor and approved by a federal judge.

What happened to Derek Chauvin, the officer involved in George Floyd’s death?

Derek Chauvin, a white former officer, was found guilty of murder and manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd. He was sentenced to 22.5 years for murder and an additional 21 years for violating Floyd’s civil rights. He is serving those sentences in Tucson, Arizona.

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4 comments

Rachel G June 16, 2023 - 10:28 pm

I really hope the changes they’re talking bout make a real difference. Too many people suffering. We need action not just words.

Reply
James D. June 17, 2023 - 5:02 am

Wow this is heavy stuff. Makes ya think how deep rooted this discrimination stuff goes. They gotta clean up the force.

Reply
Mike K. June 17, 2023 - 7:06 am

Honestly it’s sad but not suprising… have seen this discrimination with my own eyes. Hope change comes soon.

Reply
Sarah J June 17, 2023 - 12:20 pm

It’s about time these investigations are happening! So many lives impacted… George Floyd was just the tip of the iceberg.

Reply

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