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Minneapolis adopts human rights settlement

The entrance to Minneapolis City Hall (Elijah Todd-Walden/Center for Broadcast Journalism)

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights’ settlement agreement with the City of Minneapolis is now in effect.

The agreement is aimed at “transforming” Minneapolis policing after the MDHR found that the Minneapolis Police Department engaged in a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing for at least the past decade. The investigation was sparked by the murder of George Floyd by MPD officer Derek Chauvin in 2020. Hennepin County Judge Karen Janisch authorized the agreement Thursday afternoon.

“There is a huge framework. There is going to be a lot of work that the city is going to be interviewed to weigh in and now coming in the very near future to get this staffed up and these processes and systems developed and training programs developed and implemented,” Judge Janisch said. “And I'm going to hope that the city is up to that task and that you can find good people to be able to carry this forward and to start implementing the framework, the systems and the procedures and the oversight.”

Throughout the 8-month-long investigation, MDHR investigators interviewed dozens of community members, leaders and officers to create new guidelines for the department. But some, including Families Supporting Families founder Toshira Garraway, are concerned that MPD even needs guidelines on how to treat Minneapolis residents with dignity.

“It's really sad that we needed a set of rules to say, how we needed to treat other human beings and a community of people that we look to protect and serve our community,” Garraway said. “We found through the Human Rights department just as well as the DOJ investigation, that there is a huge amount of discrimination against Black and Native people, and our loved ones paid the ultimate price of that discrimination.”

All the requirements in the settlement must be met by their respective deadlines. Some things that go into effect immediately include banning retaliation against a person for fleeing police, resisting arrest, being boisterous, or assaulting an officer. The settlement also bans the use or threat of force against protestors and those filming police.

City Attorney Kristyn Anderson said that they are confident about meeting those deadlines, but also acknowledges it will take quite a bit of work. The city is expecting a federal consent decree to be released soon as well, and is to be implemented in tandem with the current settlement agreement. Both agreements will be monitored by a third party independent monitor, agreed upon by the state and Minneapolis.

A day before the agreement was put into place, Harvard researchers released a report with recommendations to improve public safety in Minneapolis. Many of the recommendations were similar to those that activists and more progressive politicians have been putting forward for years. They include providing unarmed alternatives for police for non-threatening situations and further funding and support for mental health assistance. The settlement agreement has provisions for both.

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