City of Minneapolis asks the Minnesota Dept. of Human Rights to hand over evidence to support its findings

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The Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office is requesting to see more evidence that supports the Department of Human Rights findings of race-based policing at MPD.

Assistant City Attorney Sarah Lathrop recently sent a formal letter to Commissioner Rebecca Lucero saying that the city is taking the charge of racial discrimination seriously, but in order to make necessary changes, it needs more information that supports the state’s findings.

“The City must understand the factual basis for the conclusions,” Lathrop wrote in the letter.

“We need specifics,” she said.

Officials specifically pointed to the state’s charge that MPD officers used covert or fake social media accounts to surveil and engage black individuals and black organizations.

As the Star Tribune first reported last month, the City Attorney’s office claimed it could not verify that finding and asked the Department of Human Rights to release more evidence – which the state has not yet done.

“At some point, the city is going to have to see what the underlying data is that underpins these allegations,” said Matt Ehling, Interim Chair of the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information.

“This is a very wide-ranging and extensive investigation by the Department of Human Rights,” he said. “It’s incumbent upon the department, I think, to justify their charging document by showing the public what’s underneath it.”

The back and forth between the city and state is significant because the two parties are in the middle of negotiations on a consent decree to address the allegations outlined in the report.

In its latest request, the city did not contest any of the state’s findings. Still, it did indicate that if the department doesn’t hand over supporting evidence, the city “reserves the right to assert any claims or defenses.”

In a statement from the Department of Human Rights on Friday, spokesman Taylor Putz said that the department is reviewing the letter and “looks forward to productive conversations moving forward.”