Minneapolis Police Found Guilty of Excessive Force, Racial Discrimination by DOJ

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Merrick Garland, the Attorney General of Minnesota, announced Friday that an investigation by the Department of Justice into the Minneapolis Police Department had found evidence of excessive force and racial bias. This conclusion was not surprising. The “patterns of practice” probe began in April 2021, a day after Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer was convicted in May 2020 of the second-degree murder of George Floyd.

Garland said in his Friday announcement that there was “reasonable reason to believe” that the Minneapolis Police Department and the City of Minneapolis had engaged in a pattern of conduct or practice that violated the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

We found that the Minneapolis Police Department and the City of Minneapolis have a pattern of excessive force in their enforcement activities. They also discriminate against Black and Native American citizens, violate the rights of those who use protective speech, and discriminate against people with behavioral difficulties when they respond to them during a crisis.

Garland, who was quick to note that “We observed MPD officers doing their difficult work with professionalism and courage,” couldn’t resist blaming Minneapolis police for the “patterns, and practices” that made George Floyd’s death possible.

Floyd’s death sparked violent demonstrations in cities across the country, and protesters demanded that the police be defunded. Garland talked about several incidents of Minneapolis police overusing force, including shooting an unarmed woman. The officer said that he fired the gun because the woman “spooked him”. Garland discussed a second case in which an officer had made racially offensive comments to four Somali teenagers who were riding in a car.

Disbanding the Minneapolis Police Department was the remedy for the alleged overuse of force by Minneapolis officers. Ilhan Omar, a Democratic Representative from Minnesota, was one of the loudest voices calling for the total abolition of the Minneapolis police department. The top House Democrats at the time were on board with the movement to defund police, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Talib (D-MI), Cori Bush, (D-MO), as well as Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, (D-NY), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) were both in favor of defunding the police department. Nine Minneapolis City Council members also announced their intention to defund and dismantle the police department.

While the Justice Department, Merrick Garland, and the Minneapolis Police Department were looking for any indication of excessive force by officers or discrimination on their part, crime in Minneapolis skyrocketed in 2020 after the death of Floyd. Minneapolis’ murder rate jumped from 46 in 2019 to 93 by 2021, making it one of the highest rates in the country. In 2021, violent crime increased by 21.6 percent compared to 2020. Minneapolis’ murder rate per capita was 19th in the country during the first half of 2022.

Merrick Garland, the DOJ, and many other cities were forced by the high crime rate in the large cities, largely Democrat-run, to act. They announced a $1.6 billion grant to help combat the problem. Many of the cities included in the grant were those that had realized that cutting back on police funding was not working. The money could be used in a variety of ways, including to hire more police officers.

Minneapolis, as well as other large cities, continue to see an increase in crime. This will be a major issue during the presidential campaign of 2024. Merrick Garland, the DOJ, and other Democrats may be looking to “fix’ other police departments located in other cities.