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DOJ to investigate Minneapolis police for possible patterns of excessive force

Written by The Frontier Post

WASHINGTON DC (NPR): One day after a jury convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on murder charges, the U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation into possible patterns of discrimination and excessive force among the police department there.

Attorney General Merr-ick Garland announced the new civil inquiry on Wedn-esday, the first such “pattern or practice” investigation in the Biden administration, which has pledged to build trust between police and communities.

“Today, I am announcing that the Justice Department has opened a civil investigation to determine whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing,” he said in remarks at the Justice Department.

He said the investigation is separate from the previously announced federal criminal inquiry into George Floyd’s death.

“Yesterday’s verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis,” Garland said. He said the investigation will look at the use of excessive force, including during protests, and examine the MPD’s accountability systems.

“If the Justice Department concludes that there’s reasonable cause to believe there is a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing, we will issue a public report of our conclusions,” he said.

The investigation marks a return to increased federal oversight of errant police departments, with a tool the Trump administration used just once in the past four years to examine a small force in Massachusetts. By contrast, during the Obama years, the Justice Departm-ent conducted more than two dozen pattern or practice investigations.

Last week, Garland revoked a Trump-era memo that made it more difficult for the Justice Department’s civil rights lawyers to reach consent decrees with state and local governments over policing practices and to seek court approval for independent monitors to check whether police departments were honoring the terms of settlements.

Activist: Convictions In George Floyd’s Death Could Represent ‘A Huge Paradigm Shift’: The murder conviction of Derek Chauvin could represent “a huge paradigm shift,” if three other Minneapolis officers charged in George Floyd’s death are also convicted, says Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights attorney and activist in Minneapolis.

“Before yesterday’s verdict, Minnesota officers had been sent the message that they could take a Black life and that there would not be any real accountability under the law, which makes it dangerous for Black people and other people of co-lor,” Armstrong said We-dnesday in an interview wi-th NPR’s Morning Edition.

Along with the charges against Kim Potter, a Brooklyn Center Police Department veteran who killed Daunte Wright, “that is a huge paradigm shift,” if all of those officers “wind up being convicted,” Armstrong said. “It would have been unimaginable just even a month ago that something like that was possible.”

“There is a lot of excitement about the fact that what we would call a killer cop is finally convicted,” she said.

Armstrong said “this did not happen because the system worked. This happened because the people put in the work. At every hand, we had to press for the officers to be fired, for them to be charged, for there to be more serious charges and things like that.”

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