The Department of Justice took two years to discover what Black people said for generations: the Minneapolis Police Department is incompetent at best and a racist terrorist organization at worst.
The DOJ had to observe an infamous chapter of the United States’ biggest gang to believe it. The AP reports the Justice Department finally exposed that Minneapolis police “systematically discriminated against racial minorities, violated constitutional rights and disregarded the safety of people in custody for years before George Floyd was killed.”
When people dismiss corrupt cops as a few “bad apples,” they usually ignore that the rest of the phrase says they inevitably “spoil the whole bunch.” According to findings about the Minneapolis police’s practices, it’s rotten to the root.
The day after former Minneapolis PD officer Derek Chauvin was convicted for George Floyd’s murder, the DOJ launched an investigation into the department. Attorney General Merrick Garland recognized the few exceptions before announcing that “the patterns and practices we observed made what happened to George Floyd possible.”
Officers regularly endangered the lives of people in their custody. We’ve already seen the unwritten rule of engagement when it comes to people in custody struggling to breathe. The standard police response, including in Floyd’s final moments, was often some variation of “You can breathe. You’re talking right now.”
The cowards in blue regularly abused their power to racially profile Black and Native communities. Cops frequently terrorized innocent victims with “dangerous techniques and weapons” for petty reasons like criticizing the police or no reason at all. After Floyd’s death sparked uprisings against police brutality and racism, cops retaliated against protestors and journalists.
Driving while Black was all it took to experience traffic stops 6.5 times more than whites. For Native Americans, it was 7.9 times more frequent. According to the U.S. Census, only 18.4% of Minneapolis is Black and 1.3% is American Indian and Alaska Native.
The report revealed Minneaplolis officers applied neck restraints like the one that killed Floyd 198 times between Jan. 1 2o16, and Aug. 16, 2022. They even continued to use them after they were banned due to his murder.
Mental health crises more likely end with assaults and arrests than the emergency mental health care they actually need.
Change Is On The Horizon In Minneapolis, But Police Reform Is Just The Beginning Of What Cities Need To Be Safer
The civil rights investigation reviewed documents, body camera footage, and data collected from the city and police. In addition to monitoring Minneapolis PD from 2021 – 2022, the review covered police practices and misconduct dating back to 2016. The DOJ also conducted ride-alongs and interviews with officers and residents. Findings from the review led to the city and police department agreeing to a consent decree.
Other cities like Baltimore, New Orleans, Chicago, Seattle and Ferguson also welcomed the supervision of a consent decree. The deal subjects police departments to federal oversight of reform efforts from an independent monitor and federal judge.
After years of getting away with literally shooting first and asking questions later, these reforms are long overdue. Key findings determined that Minneapolis cops often responded to mental health crises with lethal weapons and chokeholds.
Citizens filed complaints about incidents like holding a Black teen at gunpoint for a $5 burrito or threatening to “make sure you and all of the Black Lives supporters are wiped off the face of the Earth.” However, the corrupt cops conveniently clear themselves of wrongdoing without even reviewing evidence like camera footage.
Attempts to reform these wannabe slave catchers won’t mean much as long as billions of dollars go towards their military-grade arsenal, paid leave for violent criminals, and payouts for police brutality. As most police budgets steadily increase, it doesn’t solve more violent crimes. Instead, it funds the misdemeanor arrests used to disproportionately harass Black people in overpoliced communities.
Concerns about the risks of defunding police ring hollow as cities continue to defund institutions and resources that actually prevent crime, like public education, mental health facilities, drug treatment programs, and affordable housing. It’s no coincidence that the safest neighborhoods typically have the least police presence and the most government investment.
Banning the neck restraints and no-knock warrants that killed George Floyd and Amir Locke are necessary changes. However, they only address the symptoms and not the root causes of state violence and crime.