Aaron Abram, of Minnesota Justice Coalition, speaks at a June 16, 2023, news conference, questioning whether a recently released report on racial discrimination by Minneapolis police will prompt real change in the way police interact with the community. Credit: Aaron Nesheim | Sahan Journal

Several community members said Friday they’ve long experienced violent encounters with Minneapolis police but felt ignored. They expressed a mix of frustration, determination, and measured contentment about the recent results of a federal investigation that corroborated their experiences.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) shared findings Friday morning that show Minneapolis police regularly violate the public’s constitutional rights, use excessive force against adults and children, discriminate against Black and Indigenous people during traffic stops, and retaliate against community members and the media. 

“So, my concern when I hear about the DOJ’s report is not the factual facts in the report,” said Jess Sundin, a representative of Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar. “We already knew them. It’s great to see them written down. My concern is about what’s next.” 


Community members call for more accountability after the U.S. Department of Justice revealed its investigation findings on Minneapolis police misconduct. The investigation found that Minneapolis police regularly violate the public’s constitutional rights, use excessive force against adults and children, discriminate against Black and Indigenous people during traffic stops, and retaliate against community members and the media. #mpd #police #minnesota #doj #accountability

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As a result of the findings, the Department of Justice, the city of Minneapolis, and Minneapolis police reached an “agreement in principle” to enter a consent decree where they would agree to reform measures that are enforced by a federal court and monitored by an independent body. 

Speakers at a community news conference Friday reacting to the development say the community should help create the consent decree. Federal officials said at a separate news conference that there’s no clear timeline for when the consent decree would be finalized, noting that it could take several months to a year. 

“We still need your help to bringing change and adherence to the constitution by our government,” said Aaron Abram, a representative of the Minnesota Justice Coalition. “However, we need a systemic reset that prioritizes our collective humanity. It was said a long time ago, and I’ll say it again, ‘There’s always a right time to do the right thing.’ And this report shows they haven’t been doing the right thing.” 

Nekima Levy Armstrong, a longtime civil rights activist and attorney, also spoke at the news conference. 

“Although the Justice Department head Merrick Garland did not give specific examples of  native-born African Americans who would have been killed by police, it has really been on the backs of those individuals—whose names many people do not know, whose faces they have not seen, whose stories they have not heard—that really brought us here today,” she said. “In addition to, of course, the brutal police killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.”

Ruth Buffalo, a former North Dakota State Representative, was in town and invited to speak by Armstong. 

“We see the injustices day in and day out, over 500 years,” said Buffalo, referring to Indigenous community members. “As the original peoples of these lands, we continue to not be seen or be treated as human beings.”

The federal investigation found that Minneapolis police unlawfully discriminate against Black and Indigenous people during traffic stops, a violation of the 1968 Safe Streets Act. Officers search them and use force against them at much higher rates than for white people who are pulled over, even when each group displays similar behavior.

Some community members said they were content with most of the report’s findings. But others said they were disappointed that the investigation didn’t look at the treatment of homeless people. 

Police accountability organizations that hosted the news conference at Minneapolis City Hall, where Minneapolis police are headquartered, included Communities United Against Police Brutality, Black Lives Twin Cities Metro, Families Support Families Against Police Violence, Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar, and the Wayfinder Foundation. 

Michelle Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality, said she was also disappointed that the report did not cover “the lack of meaningful investigations” into police violence that led to civilian deaths. 

“It felt to me, like finally somebody’s saying it,” Gross said of the DOJ report. “But the reality is there was no surprises in that report. Everything that is in that report is something we said. I do see the community’s fingerprints all over this report… 

“I was pleased that they captured what the community had to say. I am a little distressed because they did not cover two of the areas we asked them to cover.” 

Gross said her group helped federal authorities on the investigation from the beginning. The investigation was announced in April 2021 after jurors convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd in 2020 by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes.  

“Our main part of it [is] to keep the community at the table, and not just at the table but at the head of the table,” Gross said. 

For the past two summers, canvassers gathered 2,300 written testimonies of police misconduct for federal investigators, she said. Her group also connected federal investigators to people with disabilities, homeless people, and families who lost a family member to police violence. 

“It was important to us to make sure that their investigation was as important as it could be. And to do that we needed to put people in touch with them that could really inform that investigation,” Gross said. 

There were several experts involved in the investigation who focused on areas like the American with Disabilities Act and mental health. More than a dozen federal investigators worked with Gross’ group. 

“I give a lot of credit to the DOJ,” Gross said of the investigation, adding that her group will be publishing a document soon outlining what the community wants to see in the consent decree.  

Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump, Tony Romanucci, and Jeff Storms, who represented George Floyd family’s family in a lawsuit against Minneapolis, released a statement about the report. 

“We do believe this report and the action steps that should follow give hope that the federal government will compel the change that the City of Minneapolis and its police department has long failed to create from within,” the statement said. “For too long, Minneapolis has failed to address persistent, unlawful, and widespread patterns and practices that have detrimentally, and too often lethally, damaged the community, particularly Black and Native citizens and individuals who struggle with mental health.”

Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence held a press conference outside of the Hennepin County Government Center on Friday evening. The organization, composed of people whose family members have been killed by Minnesota police officers, seeks transparency and accountability into their loved ones’ deaths.

A group of about 20 attendees expressed cautious hope about a potential federal consent degree that would compel Minneapolis police to enact reform, but they also questioned if genuine change was possible.

Aaron Nesheim contributed to this report.

Katelyn Vue is the housing reporter for Sahan Journal. She graduated in May 2022 from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Prior to joining Sahan Journal, she was a metro reporting intern at the Star...