A group of Minnesota Democrats led by Rep. Ilhan Omar is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the patterns and practices of several police departments in Minnesota.
Omar, who authored the letter, wants the DOJ to conduct investigations into the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Minnesota State Patrol, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, Brooklyn Center Police Department, Richfield Police Department, Edina Police Department, and St. Anthony Police Department.
Following the trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, the DOJ announced that it would examine the practices of the Minneapolis Police Department and began the investigation last month under U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. That investigation will look at whether the MPD “engages in discriminatory policing” or if it uses excessive force against protesters and individuals with behavioral health disabilities.
The letter from Omar claims that MPD’s practices are not “unique” and that other law enforcement bodies uphold “this environment of racial violence and injustice.”
“The murder of Mr. Floyd … is a pattern among many Minnesota law enforcement agencies,” the letter reads.
The letter cites the death of Brian Quinones in 2019, saying the officers from the Edina and Richfield departments who killed him did not face legal consequences.
“It is a pattern that repeats among many law enforcement agencies throughout the Twin Cities metro,” according to Omar and her colleagues.
Minnesota’s Operation Safety Net, which was created in the wake of possible unrest surrounding Chauvin’s trial, actually “resulted in excessive violence to community members without accountability,” the letter states.
The agencies that were involved in Operation Safety Net — Minnesota State Patrol, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, Brooklyn Center Police Department, and MPD — should not have let the plan “obscure their responsibility to uphold civil and human rights,” the letter says. These departments used “egregious militarized violence” against protesters, according to Omar and several other DFL politicians.
The letter to the DOJ also claims recent medical studies have shown that “permanently disabling injuries” occur in dozens of people after “police escalation” at protests.
“As soon as Operation Safety Net partners stopped approaching protesters with violence, there was no longer violence at the protests,” reads the letter.
Nineteen Minnesota politicians signed the letter beneath Omar’s name, including several senators and representatives, as well as some Minneapolis City Council members and a Brooklyn Center City Council member.