The Minneapolis Police Department has engaged in a pattern of race discrimination for at least the past decade, according to an extensive state investigation launched after the police killing of George Floyd in 2020.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights announced Wednesday that it will work with the city of Minneapolis to negotiate a court-enforceable agreement known as a consent decree to address the report’s long list of issues.
The agency discovered that the city and police department violated state law by engaging in a “pattern or practice” of race discrimination. Its findings detailed evidence of disparities in how officers use force, stop, search, arrest, and cite people of color, particularly Black people, in similar circumstances compared to white people.
According to the report, race-based policing in Minneapolis stems primarily from police culture. Officers, supervisors, and trainers “receive inadequate training that emphasizes a paramilitary approach to policing, resulting in officers unnecessarily escalating encounters or using inappropriate levels of force,” according to the report.
According to the report, the department’s accountability systems are “inadequate and ineffective at holding officers accountable for misconduct.” However, it claims that previous and current city and police leaders have failed to act, allowing an aggressive culture to flourish.
According to the report, officers “consistently use racist, misogynistic, and disrespectful language and are rarely held accountable” for their actions. Officers use “higher rates of more severe force” against Black residents in similar circumstances, according to the report. 13 of the 14 people killed by Minneapolis cops since 2010 have been people of color or Indigenous people. These groups make up about 42% of the city’s population, but they have been responsible for 93 percent of the city’s officer-involved deaths since 2010. Despite the fact that Black people make up only about 19 percent of the city’s population, they accounted for 63 percent of all use-of-force incidents.
According to the report, officers in Minneapolis are more likely to stop vehicles carrying people of color and Indigenous people, often for minor offences. Officers were more likely than white people to ask if they had guns or drugs when stopped for moving violations or no reason at all, and to search their vehicles without legal justification. Officers are more likely to use force against Black drivers in traffic stops, as well as arrest them, than white drivers in similar situations, according to the report.
According to the report, Minneapolis police disproportionately cite Black people for disorderly conduct and obstruction of the legal process. It frequently occurs, according to community members, “when officers are annoyed or dissatisfied with a community member’s reaction or response to a police officer’s presence.” The charges are frequently dropped because they are likely unjustified, according to the report, while white people are more likely to receive leniency. The financial and other collateral costs of unjustified citations against Black people “can be substantial, and at times, devastating,” according to the report.
According to the report, police used “covert, or fake, social media accounts to surveil and engage Black individuals, Black organizations, and elected officials without a public safety objective, unrelated to criminal activity.” This included phony engagement with Black people and organizations such as the NAACP and the Urban League, which frequently used “language to further racial stereotypes associated with Black people, especially Black women.” Police also used undercover accounts to criticize elected officials, including an unnamed member of the City Council and an unnamed state elected official.
Officers, on the other hand, did not track or surveil white people in cases unrelated to criminal activity, and they did not use covert social media accounts to track white supremacist or white nationalist groups, according to the report.
According to the report, the city and police department do not need to wait for the planned consent decree that the two parties will negotiate. Three immediate steps were proposed by the Human Rights Department. The first was a set of measures aimed at improving accountability and oversight, such as resetting performance expectations, conducting better investigations into allegations of misconduct, and providing better coaching to officers who needed it. Second, the report recommended that the department overhaul its training to transition from a paramilitary to a public-service mindset. And it said leaders must “communicate honestly” when critical incidents such as officer-involved shootings arise.