“A portrait of systemic rot:” Minneapolis police making headlines

[image: text at the top reading "Break the cycle: Another world is possible." Below it, a cycle comprised of four sections: "police violence" leads to "community outrage" leads to "reform, calls for training and 'culture change'" leads to "lack of meaningful change" leads back to "police violence." An arrow breaks off from the "community outrage" section, pointing at the word "abolition" in a big font. www.mpd150.com at the bottom]

Between summer 2020 and summer 2022, we shared these links on social media, but we thought that there might be value in putting them all together in one post. Especially as people in Minneapolis (and beyond) continue to make the case for abolition vs. reform, consider each of these articles evidence.

That wording of “systemic rot” (borrowed from Deena Winter in one of the articles linked below) is key: as these articles make clear, the problems with MPD are not the kind that can be solved by a handful of minor tweaks or reforms. We need to divest from policing and punishment, and invest in the services and resources that actually keep us safe.

It goes without saying, but these articles are just pieces of a larger picture. Check out our “Resources” page for much more, as well as the “Enough Is Enough” report and toolkit, which expands this two year snapshot to a 150-year history.

Black citizens recount fear, distrust as complaints against Minneapolis police go nowhere (Star Tribune, 5/14/22)

“As Tadasa tried to stop what he believed was an illegal search, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) was concluding an investigation of its own that found the MPD had engaged in a pattern of discrimination against Black residents that included disproportionately higher rates of searches and use of force. The human rights report released last month zeroed in on the decade-old OPCR, concluding that it lacks independence from the police department and improperly investigates about 50% of police misconduct complaints.”

Report calls out abuse of social media by Minneapolis police (Associated Press, 5/2/22)

“Officers used ‘covert, or fake’ accounts to seek and gain access to the online profiles of Black individuals including an unnamed City Council member and a state elected official, the report said, as well as groups such as the Minneapolis NAACP and Urban League. The activity included friend requests, comments on posts, private messages and participation in discussions… Minneapolis police fell well short of those standards, investigators determined, improperly using the accounts ‘to surveil and engage Black individuals, Black organizations, and elected officials unrelated to criminal activity, without a public safety objective’.”

State: Probable cause that Minneapolis police engage in race discrimination (MN Reformer, 4/27/22)

“The report alleges more than isolated incidents of wrongdoing. Instead, it draws a portrait of systemic rot. Among the findings: Racial disparities in how MPD officers use force, stop, search, arrest and cite people of color, particularly Black people; MPD officers have used covert social media to surveil Black people and organizations, in violation of the United States Constitution; MPD officers have consistently used racist, misogynistic and disrespectful language. The report also lays out a damning picture of the department’s organizational culture: MPD officers, supervisors and field training officers receive deficient training, which emphasizes a paramilitary approach to policing that results in officers unnecessarily escalating encounters or using inappropriate levels of force; Accountability systems are insufficient and ineffective at holding officers accountable for misconduct.”

Minnesota Human Rights investigation finds pattern of racist law enforcement by Minneapolis Police Department (Sahan Journal, 4/27/22)

“In a newly released report, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights slammed the city of Minneapolis and its police department for what it described as a ‘pattern or practice of race discrimination.’ The two-year investigation revealed that the police wielded more severe force against Black people, surveilled Black citizens through social media, and frequently used racial slurs.”

Audit: Minneapolis leaders didn’t follow emergency plans during George Floyd protests (MN Reformer, 3/8/22)

“The Minneapolis City Council received a long-anticipated ‘after action review’ from independent auditors on Tuesday that presents a damning picture of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and then-Police Chief Medaria Arradondo’s numerous failures to maintain safety and order in the days following the police murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.”

The secret police: Cops built a shadowy surveillance machine in Minnesota after George Floyd’s murder (MIT Technology Review, 3/3/22)

“Law enforcement agencies in Minnesota have been carrying out a secretive, long-running surveillance program targeting civil rights activists and journalists in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Run under a consortium known as Operation Safety Net, the program was set up a year ago, ostensibly to maintain public order as Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin went on trial for Floyd’s murder. But an investigation by MIT Technology Review reveals that the initiative expanded far beyond its publicly announced scope to include expansive use of tools to scour social media, track cell phones, and amass detailed images of people’s faces.”

KARE 11 Investigates: Nearly 150 MPD cops with misconduct history served as trainers (KARE 11, 2/24/22)

“The beating was so severe that both officers were relieved of duty. But the MPD not only put them back to work, the department also made them field training officers — FTOs… Having cops with records of misconduct train new generations of recruits is all too common for the MPD. Of the more than 400 Minneapolis cops who have served as FTOs since 2016, nearly a third of them – like Brazeau and Brown — have been disciplined or named in lawsuits that have cost taxpayers more than $34 million, a KARE 11 investigation has found.”

Bodycam shows Minneapolis officers ‘hunting’ civilians during Floyd protests (MN Reformer, 10/5/21)

“Another batch of body camera videos released Tuesday show how Minneapolis police officers became increasingly militaristic in their attempt to clamp down on protesters five days after George Floyd was killed… They mocked some demonstrators and sought out others who were breaking curfew and fired rubber bullets at them. They made racially tinged remarks, derided the working press and celebrated direct hits with their rubber bullets. As citizens hurled insults at the officers — saying this is exactly the sort of behavior they were protesting — MPD officers continued to fire on people as they fled.”

Minneapolis Police Were Cleared in the Killing of Terrance Franklin. Franklin’s Family Says a Video Proves He Was Executed—and Now the Case May Be Reopened (Time Magazine, 6/25/21)

“The SWAT officer who fired the most rounds into Franklin’s head, Lucas Peterson, had been named in 13 complaints involving excessive force at the time, and settlements by the city and other agencies totaling $700,000. Peterson used a choke hold on a Black man in 2002, whose subsequent death was ruled a homicide, and in 2006 falsely reported that a Black woman attacked a fellow officer, which was disproved by surveillance video… All five officers remain on the force. Peterson’s LinkedIn profile identifies him as trainer coordinator for the SWAT team.”

Botched Minneapolis drug case raises questions over secrecy of informants (Star Tribune, 5/15/21)

“The officers left that day with one handgun, 2 pounds of meth and Moore in zip ties. If convicted, Moore faced 13 years in prison. But it didn’t go that way. Over the next seven months, what had looked like a rock-solid case turned to dust as two public defenders uncovered what a judge called a ‘reckless disregard for truth’ in the police investigation.”

Untruthful officers rarely disciplined but create liability issues for MPD (KSTP, 3/3/21)

“A review of nearly 100 cases shows a lack of discipline is systemic. More than a dozen officers have received minimal to no discipline, even when there was clear evidence that they had not been truthful about their use of force. Not one was fired. Several are still wearing badges. In one case recently uncovered by 5 INVESTIGATES, a department supervisor ‘knowingly omitted’ details about an officer’s use of force.”

The Bad Cops: How Minneapolis protects its worst police officers until it’s too late (MN Reformer, 12/15/20)

“The Minneapolis Police Department is notoriously ineffective at removing bad cops from its ranks. Numerous lawsuits, independent investigations and the disciplinary files obtained by the Reformer show a pattern of mismanagement when it comes to holding officers accountable. Department leaders are routinely blind to numerous warning signs that problem officers pose a danger to the public. Managers are often unaware their subordinates are being investigated for misconduct, promoting them through their ranks and lauding them for their aggressive tactics even as complaints pile up.”


Some people may be asking “so what do we do with this?” That’s an important question. While MPD150 itself is sunsetting as a collective, we’d point Minneapolis friends and neighbors toward organizations like REP for MNReclaim the Block, and Black Visions, as well as various neighborhood-based mutual aid and abolitionist groups, and we’ll end with these words from local artist and activist Ricardo Levins Morales, from his piece “What Time is it on the Clock of Police Abolition?”

A flood of new organizing has come out of the pandemic and the uprising – including mutual aid centers, street medic teams, unhoused defense networks, alternative emergency response systems, transformative justice practices and many media, publishing and cultural projects. Others are tackling the police presence in schools, universities, parks and transit; challenging their influence over social service agencies, neighborhood associations and hospitals; opposing budget increases and new facilities; supporting and advocating for survivors and families; suing over injuries; and fulfilling the unending duty of responding to police outrages. When a large movement wave crashes into the shore it spreads out, churning up countless experiments, tactics and organizational forms as the sea gathers energy for the next wave. Organizing is not as visible as mass protests but it is at the heart of sustainable movements. It’s what turns energy into power.