Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frye speaks at a press conference announcing the city's settlement with MDHR. (Elijah Todd-Walden/BLCK Press)
As Minneapolis police create new guidelines following a settlement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, people within the city’s Black community have mixed feelings about the city’s direction.
An investigation by the MDHR found the police department repeatedly violated Minnesotans’ civil rights. The settlement, which does not require the city to admit or agree to the state’s charges, requires the city to create a new unit to implement the changes in the settlement within 60 days. Minnesota courts will now decide how to enforce the settlement.
Members of the community expressed dissatisfaction with the settlement, saying a more transparent process along with reparations for those who suffered discrimination at the hands of police are key to repairing the relationship between the police and the community at large.
A press release by The Unity Community Mediation Team stated that “the community that was injured by the racial discrimination this agreement says it is responding to has been cut out of the process.”
“This is more of the practice of denial and exclusion,” it continued.
Loretta VanPelt, who read a joint statement from the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar and Minneapolis for Community Control for Police on Thursday, echoed the sentiment.
“The agreement was negotiated entirely behind closed doors,” VanPelt said. “The MDHR conducted extensive community engagement, while the city did nothing to engage the residents of Minneapolis.”
The city has not called this agreement a consent decree, which is reserved for U.S Department of Justice investigations and enforced by federal courts, but rather a court-enforceable settlement agreement. This is due to an ongoing pattern or practice investigation by the DOJ that was initiated in April 2021 after Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd. This is so Minneapolis can modify the MDHR settlement if needed to cooperate with the DOJ’s court-ordered changes.
“If you look at some of the cities who have been issued even that federal Consent Decree, they still have legitimate problems reigning in police and police accountability,” Minneapolis artist and activist D.A. Bullock said. “They put in a lot of measures that end up ironically expanding this sort of police industry and the complex around it.”
The new policies to be implemented by Minneapolis police include data collection to advance non-discriminatory police encounters, establishes new “levels” to define proper use of force and requires the officer who uses that force to report the initial encounter that lead to that use of force, and the creation of a new MPD unit to guide the training and implementation of the new police guidelines. Minneapolis police must create that unit by late May. But Bullock remains skeptical.
“They haven’t changed, police still believe that their main strategy is the use of force,” he said. “I don’t know how many consent decrees are going to change that.”
Bullock says he doesn’t believe the city can move forward without first looking back, and revisiting every case that could have been mishandled due to police misconduct.
As Minneapolis begins following this court order, it is awaiting the results from a U.S. Department of Justice investigation, which will most likely result in further policy changes within the police department.