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“Deep Systemic Racism”: Will the Minneapolis Police Department Ever Change?

The department has seen decades of reform efforts, but activists say racism and violence are too ingrained to eradicate. As Derek Chauvin put George Floyd’s neck under his knee and slowly killed him, a police officer who had just joined the force repeatedly asked Chauvin if they should adjust Floyd’s position. Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the department, declined. That precise interaction – a seasoned officer training junior officers to act violently – was not a one-off failure, but a “systemic” problem within the Minneapolis Police Department, according to RT Rybak, who served as Minneapolis Mayor for 12 years. “Since 1980, every mayor, including myself, has had a reform agenda for the Minneapolis police force,” said Rybak. “Neither of us made the necessary changes anywhere.” The day after Chauvin was convicted of second degree murder, the US Department of Justice announced an investigation into whether Floyd’s murder was part of a pattern of discriminatory and illegal behavior by the Minneapolis Police Department. This was far from the first time the Justice Department attempted to interfere with the Minneapolis police force. For decades, local, state, and federal officials have sought to train police officers in Minneapolis not to unnecessarily shoot or injure people, and to have more positive interactions with Black, Indigenous, and Asian residents. Minneapolis police officers have received extensive training in community relations, trust-building, and implicit bias. People hold posters with paintings of George Floyd, Daunte Wright and Philando Castile, all of whom were killed by Minneapolis police following the verdict in Derek Chauvin’s trial. Photo: Carlos Barría / Reuters However, these formal training sessions have been undermined by the lessons officers have been taught on the street, the responses of high-level officials to anti-racism initiatives, and the local police union’s success in protecting officers from legal consequences, no matter how their behavior is hideous, said Rybak. None of this will change easily. “I think it’s hard to come to any conclusion other than: There’s a deep systemic racism within the department,” said Rybak, who was Minneapolis Mayor from 2002 to 2014, means that culture is. “After Floyd’s death last year, the then-chief of the Minneapolis Police Union labeled Floyd a” violent criminal “and referred to people as protesting his murder terrorists. After Chauvin was convicted of murder, the union released a statement backing the decision The jury accepted. She expressed “deep remorse” for the “pain” the community is feeling, but also criticized what she called “political pandering” and “racial bait” of elected officials. The need for major police reform is now one Centrist stance in Minneapolis. The majority of the city council pledged last year to dismantle and dismantle the police department. Efforts have clashed with political and bureaucratic obstacles, but are now being preceded by a new attempt to introduce voters to the future of the department. The current chief of police , Medaria Arradondo, said in a statement that he “welcomes this investigation” and that he believed the Justice Department would provide “additional support” to implement “changes he would like to see” in the department. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo was seen in February. Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii / AP Arrradondo himself was part of a group of five black officials who sued the department in 2007 for racial discrimination. That lawsuit was settled for a total of $ 740,000. Some local residents said they were confident a federal investigation could bring improvements, while others, including longtime anti-police violence activists, argued that the problem with police killings was bigger than that of the Minneapolis Police Department and that one across the state federal control is required. In the past twenty years, 208 people have died in Minnesota after “physical confrontation with law enforcement,” a database computed by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. While only 7% of Minnesotans are black, they were responsible for 26% of these deaths. Some of the most well-known police killings of black men in the state were committed by officers in police stations in the Minneapolis suburbs, not in the city itself, including the killing of 32-year-old Philando Castile in 2016 and 20-year-old Daunte Wright in the beginning this month. Other local activists said they viewed the Justice Department’s investigation as mere political theater by the Biden government and believed the police department could not be reformed. “The Minneapolis Police Department has served as a flagship for reform. If you can imagine reform, it was attempted in Minneapolis, ”said Miski Noor, a co-founder of Black Visions, a local organization that campaigns for the abolition of the police force. Protesters carry a banner featuring Philando Castile in 2017 in neighboring St. Paul, Minnesota. Photo: Stephen Maturen / Getty Images “We currently have a black police chief. Before that, we had an indigenous woman who was weird as a police chief. You’ve tried all of the ‘identity’ pieces … you’ve had all sorts of implicit bias training and continue to murder black people indiscriminately. “The Justice Department investigation” will spend millions of taxpayer dollars telling us what we already know, “Noor said, calling it” a symbolic gesture that does nothing to protect black life. ” “Everyone is crying out for change” As part of the Ministry of Justice’s new investigation, federal officials will again examine the Ministry of Justice’s use of force, including against demonstrators and people who have to do with mental illness. its process of holding officials accountable for wrongdoing; and among other things its training policy. After a police officer shot and injured an 11-year-old black child in an attempted drug attack in North Minneapolis in 2002, the law enforcement agency entered into a “mediation process” with the Department of Justice, agreeing to “be more racially and psychologically conscious Health Problems ”and, according to news reports, to work on the use of violence and the diversity of departments. The agreement expired in 2008. In 2014, Minneapolis was one of six cities selected for a program by the Obama administration’s Department of Justice to restore trust between the color communities and the police. These included formal reforms in the use of the ministry’s policies of violence and “24 hours of procedural justice and implicit bias training” for every officer in the department. When it came to Minneapolis, the protests following Floyd’s murder made it clear that the training effort was “not enough,” wrote one of the researchers who evaluated the Justice Department’s program last year. High-profile incidents of police violence in Minneapolis go back decades, including an incident in 1989 where police set fire to the home of an elderly black couple who died from inhaling smoke. a 1993 incident in which two Native American men were stuffed into the trunk of a police car; and a 2015 incident where a police officer was captured on video threatening to break the legs of a Somali teenager. Daunte Wright’s coffin is brought out after a funeral in Minneapolis Thursday. Photo: Stephen Maturen / Getty Images Current Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey ordered Minneapolis Police to end low-level covert marijuana stings after the Hennepin County Public Defender’s Office announced racist targets. Between January 24 and May 24, 2018, 46 out of 47 people arrested in stitches were black. In 2020, 55% of all teenagers incarcerated in Minnesota were black – twice the incarceration rate of white teenagers. Nearly 50% of the youth detained across the state were from the county of Minneapolis. “I’m not the judge and I’m not the jury, but everyone is crying out for change and change starts with us. We need to take this step forward to make this change, ”a black officer from the Minneapolis area told the Guardian. “I want to be that change.” The officer, who asked for anonymity, added that the community was longing for more black officers in positions of power: “We need you, climb the ladder,” the officer was told by black residents. While a Justice Department investigation could be productive, police officers could also take advantage of the doubt, the official argued. “All police officers are not bad,” said the officer. “Just give people a chance.” 16-year-old Rogen Abdalla, who organized a student demonstration against police murders in the state capital two days before the chauvin verdict, said she was confident that the federal government would intervene but did not expect any rapid change. “If the investigation goes as I hope it will, I think it will be a small step towards a better future, if not for me then for my children or grandchildren,” the teenager told the Guardian.