Post George Floyd Death, U.S. Justice Department Announces Major Civil Rights Violations by Minneapolis Police Department, City of Minneapolis – Other Police Departments Targeted

A mural of George Floyd painted downtown to memorialize his life is shown on the anniversary of his death on May 25, 2021, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Megan Varner/Getty Images

By Crescenzo Vellucci

The Vanguard Sacramento Bureau

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The Minneapolis Police Department and the City of Minneapolis engaged a “deeply disturbing…pattern or practice of conduct in violation of the U.S. Constitution and federal law,” the U.S. Dept. of Justice announced Friday.

But, MPD, disclosed the DOJ, is not the only U.S. police department under investigation for civil rights violations, noting MPD is one of eight probes of law enforcement agencies opened during the Biden Administration by the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. 

About a year after the death of George Floyd, in April 2021, the DOJ said it began a “comprehensive” civil rights investigation of local law enforcement and found MPD’s actions “erode(d) the community’s trust in law enforcement. And they made what happened to George Floyd possible,” according to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Friday.

Garland said DOJ found MPD “[u]ses excessive force, including unjustified deadly force and unreasonable use of tasers; Unlawfully discriminates against Black people and Native American people in its enforcement activities, including the use of force following stops; Violates the rights of people engaged in protected speech; and Along with the city, discriminates against people with behavioral health disabilities when responding to calls for assistance.”

DOJ added it “identified and concluded that persistent deficiencies in policy, training, supervision, and accountability contribute to the unlawful conduct.”

Garland noted, George Floyd’s death had an irrevocable impact on his family, on the Minneapolis community, on our country, and on the world,” adding the city and MPD agreed to a court enforceable  consent decree “with an independent monitor, rather than through contested litigation.”

The DOJ revealed other current police probes include Phoenix Police Department; Mount Vernon Police Department; Louisiana State Police; New York City Police Department’s Special Victims Division; Worcester Police Department; and Oklahoma City Police Department. 

The Department has issued Section 12601 findings reports in the past year regarding the Louisville Metro Police Department, as well as the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Department. 

We will continue to work with the city and the MPD toward ensuring that MPD officers have the support and resources they need to do their jobs effectively and lawfully as we work together toward meaningful and durable reform,” said the AG.

“Together we can build a Minneapolis that protects the rights, safety, and dignity of all, I know this community is still hurting and that today’s announcement may also open up old wounds,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “The Justice Department is committed to working with Minneapolis on a path forward, to constitutional policing, and stronger police-community trust.”

“Every American deserves policing that is fair, equitable, and non-discriminatory,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the DOJ Civil Rights Division. 

Clarke added, “The protests that unfolded across Minneapolis, and the country, underscore the urgency behind our efforts to ensure that police departments respect constitutional rights, while garnering public trust. We will stand by the people of Minneapolis as we work to institute reforms that are lasting and enduring.”

“These findings present a sobering picture of a flawed system – but today we turn towards change through justice,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Bildtsen for the District of Minnesota. “This thorough investigation is the foundation to make fair and lawful policing a reality for our entire community.”

The DOJ explained it opened the MPD investigation April 21, 2021, conducted numerous onsite tours of MPD facilities; interviewed MPD officers, supervisors, and command staff; spoke with city officials and employees; accompanied behavioral crisis responders and officers on ride-alongs; reviewed thousands of documents; and watched thousands of hours of body-worn camera footage. 

DOJ “attorneys and staff also met with community members, advocates, service providers, and other stakeholders in the Minneapolis area.”

DOJ added the civil rights investigation is separate from DOJ’s criminal cases against MPD officers “related to the death of George Floyd.” 

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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