Racist Minneapolis cops spied on black leaders while ignoring white hate groups


Minneapolis City Council announces support for dismantling the police department following the death of George Floyd – Credit: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Minneapolis Police Department has turned a blind eye to white nationalists and white supremacist movements online, even as its officers set up fake social media accounts to surveil and troll law-abiding members of the black community “without public safety objective”.

It’s just one of dozens of shocking revelations from a two-year investigation by the state government’s top civil rights agency that found Minneapolis police “engage in a pattern or a practice of racial discrimination”.

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The Minnesota Department of Human Rights launched the investigation days after the police killing of George Floyd in late spring 2020. The agency reviewed more than 700 hours of body camera footage, nearly half a million pages of police documents and use of force reports. , dozens of hours of police training, ten years of police data and the results of 15 community listening sessions.

The results are distilled into a dazzling 72-page report which is full of evidence of the MPD’s discriminatory policing. The report denounces city leadership that has allowed the department’s culture to “fester” allowing “illegal policing practices that compromise public safety.”

racist language

The problems at the MPD start with the vile language of the cops. The report castigates MPD officers who “systematically” use racist language and slurs. “They call black people ‘boobies’ and ‘monkeys’ and call black women ‘black female dogs’,” the report said, adding, “An MPD supervisor called Somali men ‘orangutans.’ addressing colored MPD officers, who “reported that their colleagues called other black MPD officers ‘coathead’ and ‘cattle'”.

The report also exposes the blatant misogyny of Minneapolis cops, who belittle women in the community with epithets like “‘fucking pussy,’ ‘bitch,’ and ‘cussy,’ a pejorative term that combines the words ‘pussy’ and ‘ pussy ‘.’,” the report reads.

Such abusive language by police “undermines the criminal justice system,” the report said, citing local prosecutors who find it difficult to use police body camera footage in court “due to the lack of respect and offense by MPD agents towards suspects, witnesses, and bystanders”.

Despite this gross lack of professionalism, the report notes that MPD officers are trained to demand “unquestioned compliance” from members of the public – and often cite citizens for “obstruction” or “disorderly conduct” for behavior that should rightly be title be called “piss”. out of the police.

Racist violence

The department’s racist language correlates with racist actions that have endangered lives, investigators have found. MPD cops use disproportionate force against black residents, who make up just 19% of the city’s population but were subjected to “63% of all use of force incidents recorded by MPD officers,” detail the report.

To control for factors other than race, investigators examined the MPD’s practice of using neck restraints — which are now prohibited — on black and white suspects since 2010. It found that “MPD officers [were] almost twice as likely to use neck restraints against black people than white people in similar circumstances.

Racist arrests and searches

Black drivers in Minneapolis are also pulled over by police vastly disproportionately to their share of the population, accounting for 54% of traffic stops. To control for factors other than race, investigators monitored traffic stops just before sunset, when drivers would be visible to cops, and after, when darkness obscured the race of the occupants. The result? “MPD officers were 12% more likely to stop a vehicle occupied by a person of color…when it was light outside,” the report said.

Searches of cars by the MPD during traffic stops, investigators have found, are also racially biased. Black drivers made up 78% of the cars searched by MPD. Controlling for other factors, cops searched the cars of black drivers nearly twice as often as white drivers.

“Secret Social Media”

One of the most disturbing revelations from the investigation is how MPD agents routinely used fake social media profiles to infiltrate black online spaces – even though they were acting “without a public safety objective”.

The report describes these rogue cops often spying on and tracking down prominent local black leaders and organizations, without any suspicion of criminal activity. In particular, investigators describe how “MPD agents used fake social media accounts to gain access to…social media profiles of black groups and organizations, such as the NAACP and the Urban League.”

The MPD’s fake social media posts often expressed bigotry, using language “to deepen racial stereotypes associated with black people,” the report said. A fake account posed as “a member of the black community” and sent “a message to a local branch of the NAACP, criticizing the group.”

The political context here is key, as the local NAACP has long criticized the MPD and pushed for police reforms. “They used taxpayer dollars and ‘precious’ officers’ time to monitor and troll the Minneapolis NAACP when we were trying to end police misconduct,” the organization said in a statement in response. reporting.

A Blind Eye to White Supremacist Threats

The report makes clear that this covert surveillance specifically targeted law-abiding black people — and that the MPD made no similar effort to monitor “white supremacist or white nationalist groups,” the report says.

This remained true despite the fact that one of the most audacious acts of violence against the MPD during the unrest following Floyd’s murder was carried out by a Boogaloo Boi whitewho fired 13 rounds from an AK-47 in the department’s Third Ward on May 28, 2020. (Ivan Harrison Hunter has since pleaded guilty to a federal riot charge.)

Two nights later, on May 30, Mayor Jacob Frey warned that white supremacists were infiltrating Minneapolis to “destabilize our city.” An MPD supervisor was caught on body camera that night insisting he wanted to ‘prove the mayor wrong’ about white supremacists – before making a racist comment about the makeup of protesters in the street :

Notable Incidents

Civil rights report highlights police misconduct in several violent incidents that were chronicled in rolling stone. He points the finger at the MPD protester”chase“scandal, in which officers drove around town in an unmarked van shooting racial justice protesters with less-lethal bullets, as an example of negligent policing and failing to meet department standards. “An officer should have intervened when other officers used force inappropriately,” the report said.

Investigators also chastise the department’s misleading public relations following the the murder of Amir Lockea bystander shot dead by a SWAT team executing a pre-dawn no-hit raid of the apartment where Locke was sleeping.

“MPD repeatedly referred to Mr. Locke, who was not a suspect, as a suspect, and released photos to further portray Mr. Locke as a suspect,” the report said. “This type of inaccurate information sows community mistrust, creates confusion and undermines meaningful change attempts.”

Leadership failure

The report is ruthless in its rebuke of city leaders who it says were aware of ‘deep organizational culture issues within the MPD’ that have resulted in the ‘disproportionate and longstanding impact of racially-based policing “. These leaders, the report says, failed to act with the “necessary urgency” – leaving the rot at the heart of the MPD “unchecked”.

Without naming recently re-elected Frey, who leads civilian oversight of the MPD, the report says the mayor claimed he “does not have the authority … to run the police department.” The report insists this is false: “The mayor has held this power for decades.”

To press conference On Wednesday, Frey – who is quick to mirror public disgust at times when the office’s worst behavior is in the spotlight, but has dragged his feet on reform – called the findings “disgusting” and “at times horrific. “, adding:” they made me sick. to my stomach. Frey swore he was now “extremely serious” about driving culture change, while insisting that “our black community deserves better”.

(The MPD’s acting police chief, at the same conference, said the department was still reviewing the report, but acknowledged that the “points raised are of deep concern.”)

And after?

Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said the investigation paints a “disturbing picture” of law enforcement in Minneapolis, while noting that “race-based policing is illegal and harms everyone – sometimes costing community members their lives.”

Insisting that city leaders have the power to “make immediate changes”, Lucero also promised deeper reform was coming – in the form of an “unprecedented” consent decree that his agency will draft with the city to prevent continued violations of Minnesota’s human rights. Law. This consent decree will be divorced from day-to-day policy, enforceable by a judge, and will require sustained oversight by the MPD.

Longtime critics of the MPD were not surprised by the report’s findings. But Eric Rice, a local attorney who has tried to hold the department accountable for its violence, says he is pleased to see the department’s racist practices exposed “in an official document supported by objective evidence.”

Rice insists that promises of reform by Frey and the department have yielded little in the two years since Floyd’s murder. “The culture is as bad or worse than it’s ever been,” he says. “There have been so many additional incidents that show nothing has changed.”

Rice is skeptical of the power of a consent decree to fundamentally overhaul the department’s culture. “We all have a responsibility not to let this remain the status quo,” he adds. “These findings cannot be tolerated.”

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