The federal Department of Justice is investigating the Minneapolis Police Department; the DOJ has limited capacity for seeking community
engagement and has reached out to organizations like Communities United Against Police Brutality for help. CUAPB is organizing more than 20 sharing sessions across Minneapolis.
Feven Gerezgiher reports:
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the Minneapolis Police Department and activists are determined to make sure community voices are heard. Monday evening, organizers with Communities United Against Police Brutality gathered residents in the Seward neighborhood to talk about police encounters.
“I cannot stress enough how important it is for the community to be a part of this process, to talk about their experiences, so that we can have a better outcome,” said Darlene Scott, with CUAPB. “You know, we protest and we have a right to protest, but I’m hoping that if we have a better connection and engagement with policing, there won’t be people being killed by police, harmed by police in the future. That we’ll have a safer community all the way around.”
CUAPB is organizing more than 20 sharing sessions across Minneapolis. Scott says the DOJ has limited capacity for community engagement and reached out to organizations like hers for help.
In April, the justice department announced the investigation into MPD’s patterns and practices to assess its use of force and whether it engages in discriminatory policing. If it finds violations, the DOJ can use consent decrees to enforce changes.
The justice department does not comment on ongoing investigations. On their website, it notes that hearing directly from both police officers and community members is a critical part of the investigation.
In remarks delivered last week, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke said “Justice Department lawyers have had in-person and virtual meetings with close to one thousand community stakeholders in Minneapolis and Louisville [where police are also being investigated in the wake of Breonna Taylor’s death]. Hundreds more have submitted messages to the Justice Department.”
As part of their sharing sessions, Communities United is also facilitating discussions between residents about what policing should look like.
“I would like to see police officers live in the community where they work, said Carol Lewis, who has lived in the Twin Cities for close to 30 years. “If you live in the suburbs, and you just work here, you’re not invested. We only get half of you. We don’t get all of you.”
Lewis says she moved from Chicago to raise her son away from violence. “We don’t want to be afraid of police; we want them to serve and protect,” she added.
Darlene Scott said the community engagement was inspired by similar organizing in Cincinnati, where a DOJ investigation led to lasting police reforms.
Communities United will be hosting more sharing sessions across Minneapolis. Community members can also attend virtual events or submit experiences online.
Submit experience through Communities United Against Police Brutality
In-person at events listed here
Submit experience to Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division’s reporting portal: civilrights.justice.gov
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