Communities United Against Police BrutalityTM is a Twin-Cities based organization that was created to deal with police brutality on an ongoing basis. We work on the day-to-day abuses as well as taking on the more extreme cases. Our overriding goal is to create a climate of resistance to abuse of authority by police organizations and to empower local people with a structure that can take on police brutality and actually bring it to an end. We provide support for survivors of police brutality and families of victims so they can reclaim their dignity and join the struggle to end police brutality.
MDHR Consent Decree with Minneapolis
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) completed an investigation into the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department. You can read the result of their investigation here. The MDHR found widespread discrimination and problem conduct. As a result, they negotiated a consent decree with the city. A consent decree is a court-enforceable agreement for a list of changes the city and police department must make.
The consent decree is made up of 13 parts that address many areas of policing including non-biased policing, use of force, searches, seizures and arrests, accountability, and other important aspects of the MPD’s interactions with the community. Also included are measures on training and officer wellness. Some parts are very good, others are weak and deferential to the MPD. Our analysis of the agreement is here.
What does all of this mean for the community?
The agreement between MDHR and the city was signed by Judge Karen Janisch on July 13, 2023. Although the community was allowed no role during the negotiations, Judge Janisch ruled that the only way the community could intervene in the case is through amicus "friend of the court" briefs. CUAPB and two other organizations went through enormous effort and expense (filing fees were over $500 alone) to submit briefs. Our brief is here. Our concern is that the agreement includes a provision that allows the police federation contract to override the agreement. It also defines coaching as an acceptable way to deal with serious complaints, keeping them secret--the very issue that is in court right now. Despite telling the community that the only way we could have a say in the agreement is through an amicus brief, Judge Janisch disrespectfully tossed all of the briefs by claiming the community was trying to get her to "blue line" parts of the agreement when what we specifically asked is for her not to approve it until the MDHR and city fixed it.
All this means that the ONLY way the community can have any involvement in this agreement is to show up at every opportunity to hold the city and MDHR accountable for real change. We will have to watch this process closely every step of the way.
Now that the agreement is finalized, the judge will have to approve of a team to monitor the city’s progress on the agreement and report back to the judge. Experiences around the country show us that having a great monitor team (called the Independent Evaluator in the agreement) is the secret to a successful agreement. The city accepted bids for the Independent Evaluator but the bids were all from law firms that have worked for the city in the past or outside companies that have no relationship with the community. We demanded that the bid process be reopened. The DOJ did just that. The new bid process ended and 20 groups applied. Under the Data Practices Act, we are not allowed to see the proposals until the final selection is made but our research and analysis of the applicants is here. Once the city, MDHR and DOJ settle on the final three candidates, they will hold community forums to collect community feedback. Watch for those opportunities.
The city is already engaging in actions to defy the consent decree. The city put former interim chief Amelia Huffman in charge of implementing the consent decree. They created a special new position just for her. This is the same Amelia Huffman who has been steeped in the violent, racist culture of the MPD for decades. She is not the person to fix the problems she helped create. See our Hell No to Huffman! flyer.
Finally, as the city begins to work on implementing the requirements of the consent decree, the monitor team should check in regularly with the community about how the city is doing. Take advantage of every opportunity to give them an honest assessment about whether the city and the MPD are making the changes that need to be made.
The bottom line is that it is still up to the community to make sure the MDHR consent decree and potential DOJ consent decree bring about the changes we need:
- Attend any hearings and give your input on the agreements.
- Give your input on the monitor team (called the Independent Evaluator in the agreement).
- Once an Independent Evaluator team is selected, share your feedback with them at every opportunity.
DOJ INVESTIGATION of the MINNEAPOLIS POLICE
On June 16, 2023 the US Department of Justice released their report on their investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department. They looked at the use of force by the police and whether the police engaged in racial discrimination. They are also looking at the use of force against protesters and police treatment of people with disabilities, including people living with mental illness. They found unequivocal proof of widespread use of excessive force, discrimination against Black and Indigenous people, violations of people's First Amendment rights, and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act in the city's treatment of people experiencing mental health crises.
We contributed over 2300 written testimonies from the community and provided them with several opportunities to meet with the community to inform their investigation. We also took all that we learned from our community events and crafted a People's Consent Decree. It's easy to see that the community's input is deeply embedded in the report. You can see our press conference about the report here.
What will come out of this investigation?
The outcome will be a consent decree--a court-enforceable agreement with a list of required changes. The consent decree will then be presented in court and Minneapolis will be ordered to follow it. The court will appoint a monitoring team to determine if the city is making strides toward implementing the required changes. The city risks sanctions (fines) if they don't. Ultimately, if the city fails to make the changes required by the consent decree, the federal government could take over our police department, a process called receivership.
Here’s how you can get involved:
- Email [email protected] or leave a message at 866-432-0268 to share your input.
- Help decide what should become part of the consent decree.
- Give your input on the monitor team (the same team will monitor both the MDHR and DOJ consent decrees--see above).
This is an important opportunity to address our policing issues—we all need to be part of the solution!
-->TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS RESPONSE IN MINNESOTA<--
We are working on a project to understand how well Travis' Law is being implemented. If you or a family member have had a mental health crisis encounter since September 2021, please take a few minutes to complete this brief survey. THANK YOU!
STOLEN LIVES JUSTICE FUND
We refer to people who have lost their lives through the actions of law enforcement as Stolen Lives. CUAPB helps many families of stolen lives to gather evidence in their cases, hire an attorney, deal with media, etc. We also operate a fund to help pay for independent autopsies, investigators, legal fees and other needs that allow families to achieve a measure of justice.
We have started a newsletter that will feature cases we are working on and the impact of the Stolen Lives Justice Fund in the lives of families. Please check out these editions. Please consider supporting the fund by becoming a monthly sustainer. Your help makes a world of difference to the families of people lost to police violence.
Stolen Lives Justice Fund Newsletter #1 (October 2021)