By Scott McClallen
(The Center Square) – The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) filed a civil rights charge and will investigate the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) over the death of George Floyd while in police custody.
A team will investigate police procedures over the past decade to determine if MPD has engaged in discriminatory practices toward people of color and then reform those practices.
The widely shared video of a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes sparked protests in more than 100 U.S. cities, some peaceful and some violent.
Gov. Tim Walz promised change.
“Silence is complicity. Minnesotans can expect our administration to use every tool at our disposal to deconstruct generations of systemic racism in our state,” Walz said in a statement.
“As we move forward, we ask the community to watch what we do, not what we say. It is going to take action at all levels from the neighborhood on up, to get the change we need to see. This effort is only one of many steps to come in our effort to restore trust with those in the community who have been unseen and unheard for far too long.”
MDHR Commissioner Rebecca Lucero will lead the investigation.
“George Floyd should be alive. He deserved to live a life full of dignity and joy,” Lucero said in a statement. “Community leaders have been asking for structural change for decades. They have fought for this and it is essential that we acknowledge the work and commitment of those who have paved the path to make today’s announcement possible.”
MDHR “will seek agreement from city leadership and the MPD to immediately implement interim measures in advance of long-term measures to address systemic discriminatory practices,” a news release said.
The charge alleges discrimination, which violates the state’s Civil Right Act.
“On May 25, 2020, near the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the respondent’s officers handcuffed George Floyd, an unarmed black man and kneeled on his neck while he gasped for air and called out for help,” the charge says. “The respondent’s officers did not respond to the calls for help, and George Floyd died.”