Today marks the second anniversary of Minneapolis Police murdering George Floyd.
“It is appalling that so little has changed since Mr. Floyd died when MPD officers ground his neck into the ground with a knee for 9 minutes and 29 seconds,” said ACLU-MN Executive Director Deepinder Singh Mayell. “While it’s helpful our state and the city of Minneapolis are taking steps to change policing, the reforms so far are incremental at best. None of them have changed a toxic and violent police culture reinforced by a shocking lack of accountability and transparency, which has deprived people of their civil rights and fundamental human dignity.”
Reforms alone are clearly not enough — the list of the dead keeps growing. Despite all the efforts of activists and our communities, police still kill more than 1,000 people across our nation every single year, and those targeted are disproportionately Black, Native and Latinx people.
We can’t even count on police to follow their own policies: MPD did nothing to deescalate before they killed Amir Locke just 11 seconds after entering the apartment where he was sleeping.
It’s time to end this police violence and overhaul policing. The state Department of Human Rights recently found evidence of a pattern and practice of racial discrimination by MPD. The coming consent decree must include community input. And the ACLU-MN will keep pushing city and state lawmakers, and the Department of Human Rights in its consent decree, to take the following steps:
- Prohibit police from enforcing a range of non-serious offenses, including petty traffic offenses like those that led to the death of Philando Castile and Daunte Wright. This is a step toward ending racial profiling, including MPD's handling of vehicle stops, searches, citations and arrests.
- Stop paramilitary style training that encourages officers to be aggressive toward community members and escalate situations.
- End the covert use of fake social media accounts to target Black leaders and organizations.
- Ensure training keeps up with new policies and laws, including bans on no-knock warrants and neck holds, and the police’s responsibility to deescalate rather than escalate situations.
- Transform use of force. Deadly force should be the last resort, not the first.
- Create alternatives for people in crisis. The first line of response should be mental health experts, not armed police who don’t have the training.
- Create oversight bodies empowered to hold police accountable, not just make recommendations that are too often ignored.
- End qualified immunity.
A model to consider is Brooklyn Center, where the ACLU-MN has championed a movement to view community safety from a public health lens. Following the killing of Daunte Wright, the city passed a comprehensive resolution enabling a committee of residents to create a new community safety and violence prevention department to oversee police.
We must take these steps to hold police truly accountable. Someday, we want to #SayTheirNames in gratitude for the change accomplished in their memory. Not solely in pain.