Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights announced Tuesday that the state will begin a civil rights investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department after one of its officers was charged with murder in the death of George Floyd.
The state agency has also filed a human rights complaint against the police department in relation to Floyd’s death.
The investigation will examine policies, procedures, and practices over the past 10 years to determine if the Minneapolis Police Department has engaged in systemic discriminatory practices towards people of color and ensure any such practices are stopped, according to a press release from Walz’s office.
“George Floyd should be alive. He deserved to live a life full of dignity and joy,” said Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero, who will lead the investigation.
“Community leaders have been asking for structural change for decades. They have fought for this and it is essential that we acknowledge the work and commitment of those who have paved the path to make today’s announcement possible,” she added.
Lucero said her department will seek an agreement from city leadership to “immediately implement interim measures in advance of long-term measures to address systemic discriminatory practices.”
Gov. Walz said the actions announced Tuesday are just some of the “many steps to come in our effort to restore trust with those in the community who have been unseen and unheard for far too long.”
“Silence is complicity. Minnesotans can expect our administration to use every tool at our disposal to deconstruct generations of systemic racism in our state,” he added. “As we move forward, we ask the community to watch what we do, not what we say. It is going to take action at all levels from the neighborhood on up, to get the change we need to see.”
Critics say the police department’s culture resists change, despite the elevation of Medaria Arradondo as its first black police chief in 2017.
Arradondo himself was among five black officers who sued the police department in 2007 over alleged discrimination in promotions, pay, and discipline. They said in their lawsuit that the department had a history of tolerating racism and discrimination. The city eventually settled the lawsuit for $740,000.
The U.S. Department of Justice also promised a “robust criminal investigation” into Floyd’s death in a statement released last week, The Minnesota Sun reported. A joint statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, and the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office said the investigation into the tragic Memorial Day incident is “a top priority.”
The full press conference announcing the civil rights investigation can be watched below:
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The Associated Press contributed to this report. Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Tim Walz” by Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus.