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State investigators find pattern of racial discrimination by Minneapolis police

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A make-shift memorial set up at the site where George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers; a report has found that Minneapolis police engage in 'discriminatory, race-based policing'./AFP
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Apr 28, 2022 - 05:05 AM

WASHINGTON — An investigation launched days after the May 2020 killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by Minneapolis police officers, has found a “pattern or practice of race discrimination” within the northern US city’s law enforcement agency.

The investigators’ report, published on Wednesday by Minnesota’s Department of Human Rights, stated that there are “racial disparities” in how Minneapolis police “use force, stop, search, arrest, and cite people of color, particularly Black individuals, compared to white individuals in similar circumstances.”

These disparities, the report says, are “caused primarily by an organizational culture” that “emphasizes a paramilitary approach to policing” and is “insufficient and ineffective at holding officers accountable for misconduct.”

As part of their investigation, the state investigators conducted thousands of interviews, pored through mountains of police reports and analyzed nearly 700 hours of body worn camera footage.

Their analysis showed that while African Americans only make up 19 percent of the city’s population, they represented 54 percent of all traffic stops between 2017 and 2020.

Similarly, 66 percent of all citations for disorderly conduct and obstruction between 2010 and 2020 went to Black individuals.

Of the 14 people killed by Minneapolis police since 2010, 13 were people of color or Indigenous.

That number includes the 46-year-old Floyd, who suffocated on May 25, 2020 under the knee of white police officer Derek Chauvin.

After a widely followed trial last year, Chauvin was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison for murder.

He announced an intent to appeal his conviction in September, and formally submitted that request this week, arguing in part that the judge should have moved the trial’s location.

In the wake of Floyd’s death, Minneapolis police adopted changes to their training procedures, but the report’s authors argue they are insufficient and that a “lack of collective action” has allowed a “problematic organizational culture to fester” among the city’s police.

The report calls on the mayor, city council and police chiefs to adopt “significant” reforms, starting with officers’ training and disciplinary systems.

It does not, however, call for the police to be “abolished” or “defunded,” actions that many protesters called for during the 2020 anti-racism movement, but have since lost popularity due to a nation-wide rise in homicides.

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