Public hearing held for potential Minneapolis civil rights director

Public hearing held for potential Minneapolis civil rights director

Public hearing held for potential Minneapolis civil rights director

The city of Minneapolis heard from the woman nominated to be the next civil rights director for the first time at a Wednesday city council meeting.

Community members got the chance to learn more about Michelle Phillips and why the mayor picked her for the role.       

“’Why Minneapolis?’ My response is, ‘Why not?’” said Phillips.

Phillips stated she’s up for the challenge to lead the Minneapolis Office of Civil Rights.

“This city deserves commitment from its leadership to provide the best service possible in a collaborative, ethical and transparent manner,” Phillips said.

Phillips made the trip from Oakland, California, where she’s had the role of the first inspector general for nearly three years.

Before that, she was the deputy inspector general of investigations in Baltimore.

In those jobs, she explained enhancing accountability in government was her focus.

“There is no doubt in my mind that she is up for the challenge from police misconduct investigations to labor standards enforcement,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said. “This role carries such immense responsibility.”

The Department of Civil Rights includes the city’s Office of Police Conduct Review.

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The position would play a key role in implementing those police reforms, including the Department of Justice consent decree.

“You have a tough job, a controversial job, but a very, very important job,” Michael Rainville, Minneapolis City Council member, said. “Your eyes wide open approach and your positive approach is going to go a long, long way.”

City council members made comments during the meeting expressing support for Phillips.

“Your sense of diligence, your toughness, I think you’re going to need both those things in this job,” said Minneapolis City Council member Jeremiah Ellison. “I’m excited to support you here.”

City leaders said it’s a critical time for civil rights in Minneapolis and Phillips is the best fit to work toward a more equitable city.

“As we pledge to move forward collaboratively with city leadership and community to restore and rebuild trust and stability and reimagine a safe, economically sustainable, thriving in [an] overall healthy city,” Phillips said in the meeting.

The Minneapolis City Council still has to officially vote yes to Philips being in this position, which is very likely after Wednesday’s meeting.

If it’s approved, Phillips will start in her role in July.