IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Minneapolis police report proves 2020 activists were right all along

The Justice Department's report on systemic discrimination in Minneapolis shows the issue of police misconduct is widespread and deserving of federal legislation.


To those who listened to criminal justice activists in the summer of 2020, the Justice Department's recent report finding Minneapolis police routinely discriminated against marginalized groups, including Black people and people diagnosed with behavioral health disabilities, came as no surprise. 

To all others, here’s what essentially amounts to a “We told you so,” courtesy of the nation’s top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Merrick Garland:

George Floyd’s death had an irrevocable impact on his family, on the Minneapolis community, on our country, and on the world. The patterns and practices of conduct the Justice Department observed during our investigation are deeply disturbing. They erode the community’s trust in law enforcement. And they made what happened to George Floyd possible.

According to NBC News

The Minneapolis Police Department, the probe found, “uses excessive force, including unjustified deadly force and other types of force”; “unlawfully discriminates against Black and Native American people in its enforcement activities”; “violates the rights of people engaged in protected speech”; and discriminates against people with behavioral health issues.

The report, released on Friday, refers to officers resisting a ban on chokeholds that was passed in June 2020, days after Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. Officers continued to use the tactic after it was outlawed, according to the report, which referred to "numerous incidents in which officers responded to a person’s statement that they could not breathe with a version of, 'You can breathe; you’re talking right now.'"

These findings align with issues activists in Minneapolis raised during the nationwide demonstrations that followed Floyd's death.

Garland said the DOJ will “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.”

Minneapolis officials said they would negotiate a consent decree — an agreement with the Justice Department — in which the city will be required to reach certain benchmarks to indicate it has improved its policing practices.

But is that enough? 

On Friday’s episode of "The ReidOut," Joy invited civil rights attorney Charles Coleman Jr. to answer that very question and to contextualize the findings of the DOJ's report.

Joy shared a graphic highlighting several cities that already have police departments under consent decrees, including Seattle, Cleveland, Baltimore, Newark and Chicago. And Friday's report noted that several other police departments are facing ongoing investigations into alleged misconduct and abuse. 

According to the DOJ, “the Department has ongoing investigations into the Phoenix Police Department; the Mount Vernon Police Department; the Louisiana State Police; the New York City Police Department’s Special Victims Division; the Worcester Police Department; and the Oklahoma City Police Department

The DOJ has also issued reports detailing unconstitutional policing by the Louisville Metro Police Department, as well as the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Department.

While acknowledging that this kind of accountability was effectively stalled during the Trump administration, Coleman on Friday posed a vital question for those considering a path forward. 

“When are we going to broaden the conversation and make this a discussion around the ills in American policing?” he said.

Coleman continued:

We cannot continue to treat these things as though they are discreet occurrences occurring in different pockets of America. This is much more representative of a systemic issue within American policing that has to be addressed on a culture and a policy level.

I've written previously about the ways in which conservative lawmakers have tanked federal policing reform legislation. Coleman’s call to action reflects the urgent need for this legislation. So often, supporters of the policing status quo in America suggest misconduct can be chalked up to a few bad apples. But with police abuse being uncovered nationwide, and often taking similar forms from state to state, it’s past time to dig deeper. 

It’s not just the apples that are bad. The roots of the whole damn tree are toxic.