The Minneapolis City Council has voted unanimously in an emergency hearing for immediate reform within the city’s police department, including banning chokeholds.
In an emergency vote, the Minneapolis City Council approved an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which opened a civil rights investigation into the city’s police department in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Minnesota’s Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero filed discrimination charges and requested a temporary restraining order against certain policies the Minneapolis Police Department practices after George Floyd’s death.
“This unprecedented energy and momentum for police reform has left Minneapolis poised not just to address our shortcomings, but to become a model for shifting police culture and uprooting systemic racism,” Frey tweeted.
Among other things, as a part of today’s agreement, we committed to banning chokeholds/strangleholds and strengthening our duty-to-intervene policy. We still have a long road to go towards change not just in city policy, but state law and the police union contract.— Mayor Jacob Frey (@MayorFrey) June 5, 2020
“Black, Indigenous, and communities of color have suffered generational pain and trauma as a result of systemic and institutional racism and long-standing problems in policing. This continuous harm was once again highlighted by the in-custody death of George Floyd,” the agreement says.
The reforms follow the widespread and sometimes violent protests after Floyd was killed by then police officer, Derek Chauvin. An autopsy released by Hennepin County, Minnesota, found that Floyd’s heart and lungs stopped functioning “while being restrained” by police. An independent autopsy commissioned by Floyd’s family found that he had died of “asphyxiation from sustained pressure.”
All 12 members of the city council voted to make “quick changes” as the investigation progresses, ultimately resulting in a consent decree from the courts that will require change, said Lucero, who was appointed to the position in January 2019 by Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat.
The following reforms are to be implemented immediately:
— Chokeholds and other neck restraints are banned.
— Officers are required to report any unauthorized use of force by their colleagues while still on the scene, regardless of tenure or rank.
— If officers don’t intervene when a use of force occurs, those present officers will be disciplined as though they themselves are the ones who used unauthorized force.
— The Minneapolis police chief will have to authorize the use of crowd control weapons, including chemical agents like tear gas.
— The police department has 45 days to clear out a current backlog of complaints against officers. After that, complaints have to be addressed within 30 days.
— Right now, bodycam footage is only reviewed when a complaint against an officer is made. This temporary restraining order will require all footage to be audited.
Lucero’s measure is backed by many local elected officials, including Frey, Walz, the City Council and Justin Terrell, the executive director from the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage.
“We urge the state to hold its full weight to hold the Minneapolis Police Department accountable for any and all abuse of power and harms to our community and stand ready to aid in this process as full partners,” said the City Council in a statement.
Can this policy help in tackling police brutality?