Tag Archives: Policing

Justice Department announces sweeping investigation into policing practices in Minneapolis

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is opening a sweeping investigation into policing practices in Minneapolis after a former officer was convicted in the killing of George Floyd there, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Wednesday.

The decision comes a day after former officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death last May, setting off a wave of relief across the country. The death prompted months of mass protests against policing and the treatment of Black people in the U.S.

WATCH | AG Merrick Garland announces DOJ probe in Minneapolis police

The Justice Department was already investigating whether Chauvin and the other officers involved in Floyd’s death violated his civil rights.

“Yesterday’s verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis,” Garland said.

SEE ALSO: What do the charges against Derek Chauvin in George Floyd’s death mean? What’s next after conviction?

The new investigation is known as a “pattern or practice” – examining whether there is a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing – and will be a more sweeping probe of the entire police department and may result in major changes to policing there.

It will examine the use of force by police officers, including force used during protests, and whether the department engages in discriminatory practices. It will also look into the department’s handling of misconduct allegations and its treatment of people with behavioral health issues and will assess the department’s current systems of accountability, Garland said.

It’s unclear whether the years under investigation will begin when Floyd died or before. Garland said a public report would be issued, if the department finds a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing. The department could also bring a lawsuit against the police department, which in the past have typically ended in settlement agreements or consent decrees to force changes.

The Minneapolis Police Department is also being investigated by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which is looking into the department’s policies and practices over the last decade to see if it engaged in systemic discriminatory practices.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said city officials “welcome the investigation as an opportunity to continue working toward deep change and accountability in the Minneapolis Police Department.” The city council also issued a statement supporting the investigation, saying its work had been constrained by local laws and that it welcomes “new tools to pursue transformational, structural changes to how the City provides for public safety.”

MORE: Jury finds Derek Chauvin guilty of murder, manslaughter in George Floyd’s death

Floyd, 46, was arrested on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $ 20 bill for a pack of cigarettes at a corner market. He panicked, pleaded that he was claustrophobic and struggled with police when they tried to put him in a squad car. They put him on the ground instead.

The centerpiece of the case was bystander video of Floyd, handcuffed behind his back, gasping repeatedly, “I can’t breathe,” and onlookers yelling at Chauvin to stop as the officer pressed his knee on or close to Floyd’s neck for what authorities say was about 9 1/2 minutes, including several minutes after Floyd’s breathing had stopped and he had no pulse.

Floyd’s death May 25 became a flashpoint in the national conversation about the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement and sparked worldwide protests.

At trial, Chauvin’s defense attorney persistently suggested Chauvin’s knee wasn’t on Floyd’s neck for as long as prosecutors argued, suggesting instead it was across Floyd’s back, shoulder blades and arm.

The decision to announce a sweeping Justice Department investigation comes as President Joe Biden has promised his administration would not rest following the jury’s verdict in the case. In a Tuesday evening speech, he said much more needed to be done.

“‘I can’t breathe.’ Those were George Floyd’s last words,” Biden said. “We can’t let those words die with him. We have to keep hearing those words. We must not turn away. We can’t turn away.”

The Justice Department had previously considered opening a pattern or practice investigation into the police department soon after Floyd’s death, but then-Attorney General Bill Barr was hesitant to do so at the time, fearing that it could cause further divisions in law enforcement amid widespread protests and civil unrest, three people familiar with the matter told the AP.

Garland said the challenges being faced “are deeply woven into our history.”

“They did not arise today or last year,” Garland said. “Building trust between community and law enforcement will take time and effort by all of us, but we undertake this task with determination and urgency knowing that change cannot wait.”

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Forliti contributed to this report from Minneapolis.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Author AP

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Texas officials and activists say murder conviction for George Floyds death

Megan Menchaca

This article originally appeared on The Texas Tribune: Main Feed

Can Policing Change?

Since George Floyd’s death last May, dozens of states and local governments have changed their laws about police behavior. And yet police officers continue to kill about three Americans each day on average, nearly identical to the rate of police killings for as long as statistics exist.

Which raises the question: Are the latest efforts to change policing — to make it less violent, especially for Black and Latino Americans — destined to fail?

Not necessarily, many experts say. They believe the recent changes are meaningful. They will probably fall well short of solving the country’s problem with needlessly violent police behavior. But the changes still appear to be substantial, even if they will take some time to have a noticeable effect.

“You actually can get a lot of common ground between police critics and police themselves,” Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown University law professor and former reserve police officer in Washington, told us. “There are plenty of places where those conversations seem to be occurring in a preliminary way.”

That common ground extends to public opinion. Most Americans disagree with sweeping criticisms of the police, like the calls to abolish police departments. (Rashida Tlaib, a Democratic congresswoman from Michigan, wrote last week on Twitter: “No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed.”) Recent polls show that most Americans say they generally trust the police, and few if any mayors, governors, congressional leaders or top members of the Biden administration share Tlaib’s view.

But many politicians and most voters do favor changes to policing, like banning chokeholds and racial profiling or mandating police body cameras. “Americans — both Democrats and Republicans — want some sort of reform,” Alex Samuels of FiveThirtyEight wrote.

The recent policy changes fit into two main categories. The first is a set of limits on the use of force. Sixteen states have restricted the use of so-called neck restraints, like Derek Chauvin’s use of his knee on Floyd’s neck. And 21 additional cities now require officers to intervene when they think another officer is using excessive force.

The changes have mostly been in Democratic-leaning states, but not entirely: Kentucky has limited no-knock warrants, which played a role in Breonna Taylor’s death, while Indiana, Iowa and Utah have restricted neck restraints. (Republican legislators in some states are pushing bills that go in the other direction, by strengthening penalties for people who injure officers, for instance, or by preventing cities from cutting police budgets.)

The second category involves police accountability. Several states have mandated the use of body cameras. Colorado, New Mexico, Massachusetts and Connecticut have made it easier for citizens to sue police officers, as has New York City.

In Maryland, David Moon, a state legislator, said that the recent changes were “just light-years beyond” those enacted after Freddie Gray died in the custody of Baltimore police six years ago. The new laws “basically blew up the old system and tried to create a new structure for discipline,” Moon told The Washington Post.

One significant part of the policy changes: States are enacting them, forcing local police departments to abide by them. “States had given great leeway to local jurisdictions to decide how to police themselves,” The Times’s Michael Keller told us. “Now, states are starting to take more control.”

It’s too early to know whether all of the attention on policing after Floyd’s death will amount to widespread changes. “Police organizations have an amazing ability to resist change when there’s no real buy-in from the rank and file,” Brooks said. But there does seem to be a greater recognition of what policing has in common with virtually every other human endeavor: It works better when it includes clear standards and outside accountability.

“What we’ve seen since George Floyd’s death — and really since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014 — is a widespread acknowledgment that law enforcement needs new rules and policies,” my colleague John Eligon, who has covered policing extensively, said. “But there is still a great frustration among many activists and community members I talk to who say that the changes do not go nearly far enough.”

He added: “They see tinkering around the edges that does not really change the culture of police departments or solve the big problem: that police in America are still killing people every day.”

News from the Chauvin trial:

  • In closing statements, the prosecution urged jurors: “Believe your eyes. What you saw, you saw.” The defense argued that Chauvin had not “intentionally, purposefully applied an unlawful force” to Floyd.

  • The jurors have begun deliberating.

  • The judge said that Representative Maxine Waters’s suggestion that protesters would “get more confrontational” if the jury found Chauvin not guilty could be grounds for an appeal.

In Ruins: Some Syrians fleeing violence have sought refuge in ancient archaeological sites.

Lives Lived: LaDonna Allard helped kick off the movement opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline by donating her land to be used as the site of a resistance camp. She died at 64.

The highest levels of professional soccer — Europe’s leagues and its annual continentwide championship — may be unraveling.

For decades, the best teams have participated in both their domestic leagues and a European tournament, now known as the Champions League. Unlike in major American sports, where all teams are chasing a single trophy, the top European soccer teams are trying to win at least two.

This week, 12 teams — six from England (including Liverpool and Manchester United) and three each from Italy and Spain (including Juventus and Barcelona) — announced they would drop out of the continentwide tournament to form a breakaway Super League. It’s an attempt to earn even bigger profits without worrying about failing to qualify for the Champions League every year. The organizers hope to add three more permanent members to the new league, which will feature 20 teams, including five rotating ones.

“The proposal is the most seismic challenge to the European football model since its inception,” The Atlantic’s Tom McTague writes. Without 12 of the most glamorous teams, the Champions League will lose much of its luster and revenue. And although the 12 teams have said that they want to remain in their domestic leagues, the executives of those leagues are so angry about the Super League that they may try to bar the teams. Politicians, like Boris Johnson of Britain, are angry, too.

“The breakaway clubs have, effectively, sealed off the summit,” The Times’s Rory Smith says. “It is what makes this such a compelling, and dangerous, moment.”

Rory and Tariq Panja have written an explainer with more details, and you can follow the story by reading Rory’s newsletter.

The pangrams from yesterday’s Spelling Bee were illegality and legality. Here is today’s puzzle — or you can play online.

David Leonhardt

This article originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

10 Months After George Floyd’s Death, Minneapolis Residents at War Over Policing

Many officers worry about further unrest, said Sgt. Sherral Schmidt, the president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis. Officers began leaving the department in droves after the uprising last summer, she said, and morale has only gotten worse. With staffing shortage, officers have found themselves bouncing from call to call, with little opportunity to engage with the community, she said. Even the members of the community engagement team have been reassigned to different jobs to help make up for the patrol shortage, she said.

Officers are expected to have to work 12-hour shifts once the trial reaches closing arguments, Sergeant Schmidt added.

“The biggest thing for our cops right now is they feel no support,” she said. “So every day, they come in and it’s like, ‘Oh, what are we going to be scrutinized for today?’”

Some longtime civil rights activists have been critical of the police, but they have also criticized the way that supporters of the defund movement have tried to effect change. Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights lawyer, said that while she supports some resources going to social services, the defund movement is nothing more than “catchy slogans and catchphrases.” She said that last summer she warned Jeremiah Ellison, a City Council member supporting efforts to dismantle the Police Department, that it would lead to only chaos.

“You’re going to turn Minneapolis into the wild, Wild West,” she recalled telling him.

But Mr. Ellison said the uptick in violence in the city began long before any money was redirected from the police, and he credited council members for investing in alternatives to policing.

“To do what we’ve done in 10 months,” he said, “as far as city government is concerned, that’s kind of moving at light speed.”

In June, nine council members, a veto-proof majority, stood on a stage in a park behind large block letters that read, “Defund Police,” and pledged to dismantle the Police Department[5].

References

  1. ^ George Floyd (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ an episode that was captured on video. (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ Mr. Chauvin (www.nytimes.com)
  4. ^ Here is what we know (www.nytimes.com)
  5. ^ pledged to dismantle the Police Department (www.nytimes.com)

John Eligon and Tim Arango