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MN Dept. of Human Rights files civil rights charge against Minneapolis Police Dept.

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ST. PAUL, MN -- The Minnesota Department of Human Rights will begin an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department after filing a civil rights charge related to the death of George Floyd.

Unlike criminal investigations, which investigate individuals for breaking the law, this will review the department's policies, trainings, procedures and practices.

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights will lead the investigation, going back 10 years to see if there's a pattern of discrimination.

It will seek agreement from city leadership and the MPD to immediately implement interim measures in advance of long-term measures to address systemic discriminatory practices.

Governor Tim Walz says now is the time to dismantle systemic rascism in the community.

"This effort is only one of many steps to come in our efforts to restore trust within those communities who have been unseen, unheard, and believe that those who are charged to serve and protect not only don't do that, they work against them," said Walz.

Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said the investigation will look at the department as a whole, using the powerful tool of the state's Human Rights Act.

"The law boldly exclaims, 'discrimination threatens the rights and priviledges of the inhabitants of the state and menices the institutions and foundations of democracy'. That was written over 50 years ago and it still rings true today," said Lucero.

Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan also discussed the investigation.

She said systemic racism didn't begin with George Floyd, but we can work to end it now.

"What is clear is that tragedies, like the one that happened to George Floyd, do not emerge from a few isolated bad actors, but from patterns of misconduct - a cultural, and this is cultural - a culture that does not hold bad behavior accountable," said Flanagan.

She called the investigation "one piece of the puzzle" in getting justice for Floyd, and all those hurt by the actions of Minneapolis police officers.

Lucero said the need for change goes beyond law enforcement.

"Minnesota has some of the worst racial disparities in the country. I say it all the time, and it's across the board. It's in housing, unemployment, education, and the criminal justice sustem," she said. "These disparities are rooted in intentional decisions that keep black and brown people from living full lives."

Walz said the ongoing crisis, sparked by Floyd's murder, won't change with tough talk and more police on the streets.

He said it will only change with action, to ensure every Minnesotan has trust in law enforcement and doesn't feel anxiety that they'll be targeted due to the color of their skin.

"Until we can make this state, this country, and out society one, where that anxiety goes away because everybody feels the same sense of security and the system is there to serve them - that is the only way we prevent this from happening again," said the governor.

The Department of Human Rights is asking anyone who's had what they believe to be a racially-motivated encounter with MPD to contact them.

You can submit comments online at mn.gov/mdhr or call 651-539-1100.

Briggs LeSavage

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