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Report finds 'racist' culture at Minneapolis police

April 28, 2022

A state probe following the 2020 killing of George Floyd found that Minneapolis officers engaged in a "pattern or practice of race discrimination." The findings come days after Floyd's convicted killer filed an appeal.

A man presents a portrait at the funeral service for George Floyd
Floyd's murder in 2020 sparked global outrage and focused attention on Minneapolis policeImage: David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images

An extensive probe launched in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in 2020 has found that the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) engaged in a "practice of race discrimination" against people of color for over a decade.

In a new report published Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) found that there were disparities in how officers "use force, stop, search, arrest, and cite people of color, particularly Black individuals, compared to white individuals in similar circumstances." 

What did the report find?

The MDHR found that Minneapolis police had employed a "pattern or practice" of race-based policing, in violation of state law.

"Race-based policing is unlawful and harms everyone, especially people of color and Indigenous community members — sometimes costing community members their lives," Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said in a statement.

The report found that this type of policing was down to "an organizational culture" that "emphasizes a paramilitary approach to policing," in the northern US city.

The report stated that MPD officers used social media to surveil Black individuals and organizations that were unrelated to criminal activity, and did not employ these measures to track white supremacist or nationalist groups.

Officers were also found to have used "racist, misogynistic and disrespectful language."

 A protester carries a Black Lives Matter flag in the US city of Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Floyd's death in 2020 sparked global Black Lives Matter protests against racism and police brutalityImage: Jonathan Drake/REUTERS

The findings come two years after the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020 that sparked angry protests across the United States and a global campaign against police abuse, while placing policing in the US under the spotlight.

Minnesota authorities immediately launched investigations amid nationwide protests which called for the police to be "abolished" or "defunded."

Hours of footage scrutinized

Investigators poured through mountains of police reports, conducted thousands of interviews and analyzed nearly 700 hours of police body-cam footage to conclude Wednesday's report.

Examinations showed that 13 out of 14 people killed by Minneapolis police — including Floyd —since 2010 were people of color or Indigenous.

African Americans represented 54% of traffic stops between 2017 and 2020 although they only make up 19% of Minneapolis' population. Black people also comprised 66% of all citations for disorderly conduct between 2010 and 2020.

The MDHR called for immediate measures to improve accountability and training in the force and said police leaders must "communicate honestly" in officer-involved shootings.

Although Minneapolis police updated their training procedures after Floyd's murder, the report's authors argue that the new measures are insufficient amid a "problematic organizational culture.”

Derek Chauvin, the white police officer, who suffocated Floyd in a knee-on-neck death choke was handed a 22-and-a-half year jail term in a widely followed trial last year. Three other officers were also convicted.

Chauvin filed an appeal against his murder conviction on Monday, citing the location of the hearings and protests and media coverage that accompanied the trial.

sl/kb (AP, AFP)

Chauvin sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison for murder of George Floyd