Community members react to DOJ investigation findings, negotiation of consent decree terms
Late Friday morning, community members reacted to the announcement from the United States Department of Justice regarding the alleged violation of constitutional rights by the City of Minneapolis and the city’s police department.
A news conference was held at Minneapolis City Hall by members of Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB), who say they continue to stand with families of victims of police brutality.
“This report is a robust report, it is well documented,” said Michelle Gross, president of CUAPB, at Friday’s press conference. “It outlines the problems with Minneapolis police, and these problems have gone on for decades. This is not new, and it gives us the opportunity to address these problems in meaningful manners.
Members said they have witnessed abuse and murders by the city’s police department and add the system has failed them multiple times, and their work continues to make sure conversations about these findings happen in all communities.
“It’s really sad that it took a small group of dedicated citizens to call upon the Department of Justice to investigate the atrocious, horrific, and brutal behavior of the Minneapolis Police Department,” said community and civil rights activist Nekima Levy Armstrong.
Bob Bennett, an attorney who has sued the department dozens of times, says Chief Brian O’Hara will need the help of his officers and other city leaders to implement meaningful changes.
“You have to have the political will to change the police culture,” Bennett said. “That hasn’t existed in Minneapolis. I mean before today.”
Bennett was also critical of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis.
“You have to take the union down several pegs,” he said. “The union has been one of the major problems, a promoter of the culture.”
Union president Sherral Schmidt did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday and Friday, but she spoke with 5 INVESTIGATES in May about officers’ reactions to the expected federal oversight of the police department.
“We’re being told we have to do this,” Schmidt said. “The morale is so low right now that it’s really hard for them to see how any of this is going to make a difference, make things better.”
A sentiment shared by some of MPD’s harshest critics.
“We do not have trust in these systems or in these individuals because they have failed us time and time and time again,” Levy Armstrong said. “That story needs to be told.”
Watch the full news conference in the video player below.