Friday, June 16, 2023

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Reveals Civil Rights Violations by Minneapolis Police Department

Minneapolis, MN - In a press conference held on Friday, June 16, 2023, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, alongside other key officials, announced the findings of the Justice Department's investigation into civil rights violations committed by the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and the City of Minneapolis. The investigation stemmed from the tragic death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, and subsequent protests against police brutality.

Attorney General Garland expressed the profound impact of George Floyd's death, stating that it has had a lasting effect on the Minneapolis community, the nation, and the world. He emphasized that George Floyd should be alive today, underscoring the need for justice and reform within law enforcement agencies.

The Justice Department's investigation focused on determining whether the MPD and the City of Minneapolis engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional and unlawful policing. The investigation covered a comprehensive review of the MPD's policies, training, supervision, and use-of-force investigations.

The findings revealed a series of troubling patterns and practices within the MPD and the City of Minneapolis that violated the First and Fourth Amendments of the United States Constitution, as well as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Safe Streets Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The key findings of the investigation include:

  1. Excessive Use of Force: The MPD routinely uses excessive force, including deadly force and unjust use of tasers, even in situations where no force is necessary. Instances were documented where officers discharged firearms without assessing the level of threat presented.

  2. Discrimination: The MPD unlawfully discriminates against Black and Native American individuals in its enforcement activities, particularly in the use of force following stops. Data analysis revealed disproportionate rates of stops, searches, and use of force against these communities.

  3. Violation of Rights: The MPD violates the rights of individuals engaged in protected speech, including retaliatory actions against protesters and members of the press. Incidents were documented where journalists were targeted and physically assaulted by officers.

  4. Response to Behavioral Health Disabilities: The MPD and the city discriminate against individuals with behavioral health disabilities when responding to calls for assistance. Specific instances were identified where the response to individuals in crisis failed to respect their rights and needs.

Attorney General Garland acknowledged that while there were MPD officers who carried out their duties with professionalism, courage, and respect, the identified patterns and practices contributed to the circumstances that led to George Floyd's death.

The Justice Department recommended 28 remedial measures to address these systemic issues and improve public safety while rebuilding trust within the community. Notably, the City of Minneapolis and the MPD have agreed in principle to negotiate a consent decree with an independent monitor, indicating a shared commitment to addressing these deep-seated challenges.

Attorney General Garland expressed gratitude to the city and MPD leaders for their dedication to tackling these issues head-on. He also extended appreciation to the community members, religious leaders, advocates, and families who shared their experiences and contributed to the investigation.

The next steps involve working collaboratively with the city and MPD to achieve meaningful and enduring reform. This investigation marks the beginning of a journey towards a more just and equitable policing system in Minneapolis.

The press conference concluded with Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta taking the floor to further discuss the findings and the path forward.

As the nation continues to grapple with issues of police misconduct and the need for police reform, this investigation serves as a reminder of the ongoing work required to ensure equal justice under the law and protect the civil rights of all individuals.

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