Over three years after the death of George Floyd, an African American, during a brutal police operation in Minneapolis, the US Justice Department reports that the city’s police force is responsible for routine excessive violence with some cases of unjustified deadly violence. Police officers also practice illegal discrimination against “Blacks and Indigenous peoples”.
The report states that many officers of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) perform their “difficult tasks with professionalism, courage, and respect”. Nonetheless, the report concludes that the systemic problems present in the MPD allowed what happened to George Floyd to occur.
Minneapolis Police Used Dangerous Techniques and Weapons
The report gives an example of how the city police force used “dangerous techniques and weapons” against individuals accused of minor misdemeanours or even no crime at all. Officers also used violence “to punish individuals who angered them or criticised the police”. Furthermore, the police discriminated during searches, handcuffing, and the use of violence based on skin colour. The report also criticises police interventions with people suffering from mental health problems, “sometimes with tragic consequences”.
Strangleholds Already Prohibited
The Justice Department began its investigation of the Minneapolis police in April 2021, nearly one year after George Floyd’s death. The report requests reforms from both the city and the police to eliminate these abuses. It recognises that initial reforms have already been set in motion, such as Minneapolis prohibiting officers from using strangleholds.
George Floyd’s death, captured on video with a mobile phone on May 25, 2020, shocked the world and triggered nationwide protests against racism and police brutality in the United States. The white police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee down on Floyd's neck for nearly nine and a half minutes, despite Floyd repeatedly insisting that he could not breathe. Chauvin was sentenced in June 2021 to 22 years and six months in prison for second-degree murder, which is equivalent to manslaughter in a serious case in German law. The three other police officers involved in Floyd's arrest were sentenced to much shorter prison terms for various charges.
Culture of Racism in Minneapolis Police
In April 2022, the State of Minnesota's Human Rights Commission accused the Minneapolis police of a culture of racism. There is “a pattern or practice of the discriminatory, race-based policing” within the city police, the report stated. Incidences of police brutality against Black and other minority groups are not uncommon in the United States.