Minnesota Launches Civil Rights Investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department

An effort to force widespread organizational and cultural change in policing following the death of George Floyd.

After days and nights of civil unrest, the state of Minnesota has finally launched a civil rights investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department this past Tuesday. The probe was initiated as an effort to force widespread changes following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died at the hands of white police officer Derek Chauvin. The officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for minutes, even after the victim stopped moving.

Governor Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights announced the filing of the formal complaint at a news conference that took place yesterday afternoon. Governor Walz and Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero insisted they hope to reach an agreement with the city to identify short-term ways to address the problematic history of the Minneapolis Police department. By investigating the department that boasts a notoriously bad track record of racial discrimination, they aim to find long-term solutions for systematic change throughout the country.

By the words of Lucero, the goal is to negotiate a consent decree with the city that courts could enforce with injunctions and financial penalties. The commissioner cited some precedents to the current case, including a consent decree approved in Chicago last year after the U.S. Justice Department found a long history of racial bias and excessive use of force by police.

The bystander video showing Floyd’s death was widely distributed via social media platforms, sparking protests and marches around the world — some violent, majority peaceful. The officer in question, Chauvin, has since been fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three of his colleagues who were also involved in the incident were fired but never charged.

“We know that deeply seated issues exist,” the governor said. “And the reason I know it is we saw the casual nature of the erasing of George Floyd’s life and humanity. We also know by the reaction of the community. They expected nothing to happen, and the reason is because nothing did happen for so many times.”

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