The Department of Justice announced their investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, so I spoke with Michelle Gross, head of Communities United Against Police Brutality.
Communities United Against Police Brutality, a Minneapolis local social justice movement fighting for police accountability–has collected 1100 complaints against the Minneapolis police and counting. Since the uprising of George Floyd, CUAPB’s canvassers has had many successes in connecting with residents around their experiences with the Minneapolis police, leading to the records they’ve obtained to share with the DOJ.
As most of the DOJ’s investigators are based in Washington, D.C., social justice movements such as the Communities United Against Police Brutality are left to make up a lot of the groundwork of fighting for police accountability in Minneapolis. The DOJ is currently faced with travel restrictions due to COVID-19, allowing little room for investigators to be physically present elsewhere.
“Our goal is to make sure the DOJ gets the information they need to uncover the truth about Minneapolis policing.”
Communities United Against Police Brutality is working to add to the investigation by submitting immoral acts on the behalf of the Minneapolis Police Department by door knocking, hosting community gatherings where locals can come and share their experiences of police brutality, and discussing what should be a part of the consent decree (a list of required changes that would be ordered to the Minneapolis Police Department if the investigations supports internal corruption) with Minneapolis residents.
The Charter Amendment, which makes police accountability harder, puts the power of Minneapolis’ Police Department into the hands of one man, the Mayor, Jacob Frey. This is a unique feature within Minneapolis’ government. If the Charter Amendment is voted out in November, it would remove exclusive control over Minneapolis’ Police and potentially put the department at risk of being taken over by the federal government.
Communities United Against Police Brutality’s canvassers have been going out into the community ongoing the last couple of months and have faced harassment on the behalf of Minneapolis police in the process. Here is a list of a few of the incidents of harassment recorded below.
Michelle shared that though political candidates have been spreading misinformation about the intention of CUAPB’s work, CUAPB’s only goal is to create awareness and move forward in ending police brutality. An unfortunate common experience for POC, protestors, the disabled, and mentally ill.
“Police address crime. Police shouldn’t be addressing homelessness, mental illness, people with disabilities, or anything outside of crime. If they stick to their job descriptions they may do a better job. Right now they’re responding to everything and they’re leaving people hanging–in turn, doing a poor job. For example, a call in regards to mental illness needs to be directed to a mental health specialist, not the police.” – Michelle Gross
Michelle also shared one of the challenges the police reform community is faced with is deciding if police officers should live in the communities that they serve. Through CUAPB’s research, evidence supports that officers that respond in their own neighborhoods are likely to be more abusive through bias. This is a conversation that is ongoing with residents, as Minneapolis has grown its reform and abolitionist movements.
“I would rather see a chief of police from out of state lead here. They’re not biased to feelings and experiences they’ve had in Minneapolis’ communities.”
If you’d like to share your personal experiences of you and the Minneapolis Police Department with CUAPB or just be a part of the movement, you can find more information here. As we’re approaching elections this November, it may be a good time to step into conversations around local, systemic change.