MPD Consent Decree is late, Minneapolis revamp of police oversight is weak, a national look at non-fatal police shootings

Minneapolis leaders and Minnesota Department of Human Rights (DHR) apparently have hit a snag negotiating a Consent Decree in response to the DHR’s scathing report, released last April, identifying a pattern and practice of racial discrimination by the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).

Meanwhile, city officials have put forward a weak proposal to reform police oversight of MPD. Settlements are still coming in from people injured during the 2020 George Floyd uprising, and injured parties are forcing MPD reforms though lawsuits.

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While East Phillips looks for answers on pollution worries, art restored at Roof Depot site

Sunday gathering to restore Urban Farm art.

East Phillips residents and friends gathered Sunday to restore the community artwork Minneapolis city workers unceremoniously removed from the fencing around the controversial Roof Depot site.

The city wants to use the Roof Depot site near 28th and Hiawatha to expand its Public Works yard, a move neighbors say would bring more pollution to an already polluted neighborhood. The East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) has proposed a much more community-friendly development for that site.

The city wants to demolish the unused warehouse building on the Roof Depot site, the same building EPNI wants to repurpose into an indoor urban farm, small business incubator space, and more.

Complicating matters, this area was home to a pesticide plant that left massive arsenic pollution. Workers removed some 80,000 tons of arsenic-contaminated soil from the former Superfund site. However, that work didn’t touch the contaminated soil underneath the warehouse, which would get stirred up during demolition, neighbors say.

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Minneapolis seeks public comments on police contract negotiations, appointment of city’s first Community Safety Commissioner

In this post:

  • City of Minneapolis holds community listening sessions on police union contract negotiations
  • Minneapolis City Council to hold public hearing Tuesday on Cedric Alexander’s nomination as the city’s first Community Safety Commissioner
  • Unity Church hosts concert to support Indigenous rights and stop the Huber Lumber Mill Project
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Minneapolis Police Reforms: Another one bites the dust?

The Minneapolis Police Conduct Oversight Commission (PCOC) is in disarray. Its chair resigned earlier this year, frustrated over the commission’s ineffectiveness. Four of the commission’s nine seats are vacant. The commission has cancelled three of its last nine monthly meetings.

One key part of the PCOC’s work is to research and evaluate Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) polices. It then publishes reports with recommendations to the city. The commission hasn’t published a report since before George Floyd’s 2020 murder, according to the city’s website.

At it’s most recent meeting, April 12, the four members in attendance were expressing frustration that they couldn’t meet their mission due to a lack of resources and limits on the commission’s authority.

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City of Minneapolis under fire — again — for failing to live up to its equity promises

Division of Race & Equity staff go public with long-standing complaints

The Minneapolis Coordinators Office, which houses the Division of Race & Equity, is under fire for creating a toxic work environment for division employees.

Seventeen of the division’s current and former employees have gone public with complaints, asking Mayor Jacob Frey and the City Council to reject hiring Interim City Coordinator Heather Johnston to the permanent post. They wrote that the office “has a history of ‘toxic, racist and unsafe workplace conditions’ and she [Johnston] hasn’t done enough to stop it,” according to a Star Tribune report.

This story shouldn’t be seen in isolation. It’s part of the city’s troubling pattern of failing to live up to its anti-racism and equity promises.

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Mayor Frey expresses ‘outrage’ at MPD human rights violations … why is he surprised?

A nearly two-year investigation has found probable cause that the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) have engaged in a pattern or practice of discriminatory, race-based policing, violating the Minnesota Human Rights Act, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (DHR) said Wednesday.

The report’s major findings said:

  • “MPD officers, supervisors, and field training officers receive deficient training, which emphasizes a paramilitary approach to policing that results in officers unnecessarily escalating encounters or using inappropriate levels of force.”
  • “Accountability systems are insufficient and ineffective at holding officers accountable for misconduct. … Instances of police misconduct are not properly investigated, not timely addressed, and officers are not held consistently accountable.”
  • “Former and current City and MPD leaders have not collectively acted with the urgency, coordination, and intentionality necessary to address racial disparities in policing to improve public safety and increase community trust.”

Addressing those issues alone is insufficient, the report said. “Without fundamental organizational culture changes, reforming MPD’s policies, procedures, and trainings will be meaningless.”

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The protests and anger are about George Floyd and so much more

A heavy police line barricaded East Lake Street at 27th Ave. S. near the Third Precinct headquarters.

The unfolding protests against the Minneapolis Police Department over the death of George Floyd aren’t about the actions of one rogue cop but about a department culture where it seems officers are unable to challenge a peer when that peer’s actions clearly violate police procedure and basic human decency.

As I write this blog, the unrest is getting worse. Police are using tear gas and rubber bullets. Some protestors are throwing things at police. Some were even vandalizing local businesses. I’m sure that conflict will draw most of the media coverage. The focus in this blog will be on the roots of community anger.

Floyd was on the ground in handcuffs while Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck. Floyd cried for help. None of the other three officers on the scene did anything to intervene. By the time Floyd was moved to the ambulance, he was “unresponsive and without a pulse,” the Star Tribune reports. The three officers’ disturbing indifference and silence to Floyd’s pleas speak volumes to many in the community who already mistrust the police.

And while Floyd’s death is the latest flash point between Minneapolis police and the community, these protests are about a whole lot more. Continue reading