On Wednesday (April 22), the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) launched a sweeping civil probe into policing practices in the city of Minneapolis following a jury’s decision that former city police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd.
Attorney General Merrick Garland stated that the Department of Justice would look at whether there has been a pattern of unconstitutional policing.
He added it would also examine whether the Justice Department engages in discriminatory conduct and whether its treatment of those with behavioral well-being disabilities is unlawful.
Derek Chauvin’s conviction was a milestone in the racial history of America and a rebuke of the Police’s treatment of Black Americans. George Floyd’s death was one in a long list of Police Force killings that prompted countrywide protests.
Garland said that he knows such wounds have deep roots. That too many communities have experienced those injuries firsthand. Moreover, Tuesday’s judgment in the state criminal trial doesn’t address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis.
Mr. Garland has previously said he would make cracking down on Police Force misconduct a priority.
Merrick Garland said that a separate criminal DOJ investigation into whether the Police officers involved in George Floyd’s death violated his civil rights continues. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is also conducting its inquiry into the police department there.
Moreover, in separate statements, both the City Attorney and American law enforcement official Medaria Arradondo stated they welcomed the federal investigation and vowed to cooperate.
The Minneapolis City Council also gestured its support for the investigation, saying it welcomed the opportunity for the DOJ to use the full weight of its authority to hold the Minneapolis Police Department accountable for all power abuses.
The verdict to open an investigation into systemic policing issues marks a sharp contrast from the former President Trump administration, which sharply curtailed the use of court-enforcement agreements to prevent law enforcement departments from violating the civil rights of people.
On Wednesday, Garland said DOJ officials had already started to reach out to community groups in Minneapolis to ask about their experiences with police. They also intend to speak with Police officers there about the support and training they receive.
Garland said the Department would issue a public report if a finding of misconduct is uncovered. It could also potentially file a civil lawsuit so that it could seek relief from a judge.
The Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender told Reuters that DOJ officials informed the city of its determination to open the probe Wednesday morning shortly before it became public.
Bender said she wasn’t surprised by the news, noting that communities of color there have been long complaining about issues with over-policing.
Currently, it is also enforcing a total of sixteen settlements with Police Force across the country.
On Tuesday, the panel of jurors found Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter after considering 3-weeks of testimony from forty-five witnesses, including passersby, medical experts, and Police officials.
In a confrontation captured on video, Chauvin pushed his knee into the neck of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man in handcuffs, for around nine minutes and 29 seconds on May 25, 2020.
The conviction activated a wave of relief and reflection not only across America but in nations around the world.
Even as crowds celebrated the decision, protesters called for justice in the case of Daunte Wright, a Black man, who a Police Officer fatally shot after a routine traffic stop on April 11, 2021, just a few kilometers from where Derek Chauvin stood trial. Kimberly Potter, who has turned in her badge, has been charged with manslaughter in this case.