Politics and policing four years later

MINNEAPOLIS — Four years after the killing of George Floyd, the death in the tight-knit south Minneapolis neighborhood that witnessed protests and provocative chants calling for defunding the police has faded, but it has certainly not been forgotten. It sparked a national controversy On social justice and police reform.

As local leaders and residents explore long-term options for the corridor known universally as “George Floyd Square,” many wonder whether there has been any significant progress on police reform in the city since the tragedy.

“I cannot say that nothing has changed, but we need more support to fully realize this change,” he said. Muhammad Abdel Ahad, executive director of TOUCH Outreach, a violence prevention nonprofit in Minneapolis. “People see things through different lenses.”

Cement walls and posters line the George Floyd Square Memorial in Minneapolis, Minnesota where George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020.

Fast payment to refrain from financing

On May 25, 2020, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of an unarmed Floyd in broad daylight for more than nine minutes. The horrific chain of events was captured on cell phone video Darnella Fraserwho was 17 years old at the time, and It sparked a national movement.

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For decades, communities of color have demanded action on their claims of police injustice, which have been validated by 2023. Ministry of Justice investigation. Cries demanding defunding the police from protesters increased as local politicians joined the demand.

In December 2020, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved the changed budget $8 million from the police department Toward violence prevention and other services based on city performance recommendations.

However, by 2021, many council members who wanted to disband the police began to walk back their statements. Some said the funding cut was not meant to be taken literally, others said it was up to interpretation. Only two members Those who called for defunding the police remain on the council, and a number of the members who went did not seek re-election or were defeated at the ballot box.

“When I was asked, it was very clear that it was about getting rid of the police,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey recently told USA TODAY. “So, obviously, it meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people.”

Frey, who has received intense backlash for rejecting calls to defund the department, was booed by protesters when he said the same thing.

A mural outside Unity Foods in Minneapolis, Minnesota depicts George Floyd.  In May 2020, Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin just outside this store, sparking a nationwide protest over police brutality.

Despite minimal calls for Frey’s resignation, voters largely rejected it Qiyas 2021 To replace the police, Fry won re-election easily. At the same time, the Minneapolis police budget increased from $181 million in 2019 to $210 million in 2023 – Such as murder, robbery and theft Compared to last year.

The mayor continued: “My position has not changed from the beginning.” “I’ve said very clearly: We need deep reform, we need a cultural shift, but no, I don’t support defunding the police.”

Part of this cultural shift also includes nonviolent initiatives as police try to regain community trust, Abdul-Ahad said.

“There is an incredible amount of hurt and pain that people are still experiencing,” Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara told USA TODAY. “There’s no way to separate that trauma, whether that trauma is the people who live in the city and lived through all of this, or the police officers from their experiences.”

The city will be opened two New community safety centers To provide social service agencies. the South Minneapolis Center It will also house the Third District Police Station.

While city leaders applaud measures formed after Floyd’s death such as the Behavioral Crisis Response Program, which sends unarmed and trained staff who specialize in intervention and mental disorders, some council members are expressing concerns about “violence interrupters” contracts.

“We are boots on the ground. We were there when the police weren’t, and we’re still here,” said Abdul-Ahad, whose organization does not currently have a contract with the city. “I hope the council understands the urgency of resolving this matter quickly. It’s getting warmer outside, and this is the time when crime rates are increasing.

April 20, 2021: Nick Hernandez and Emma Ruddock embrace in celebration after hearing Derek Chauvin's sentencing at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis.

Justice is beyond conviction

After seeing what it was Convicted to 22.5 years in prison for second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death, the other three Minneapolis officers involved convicted Because his civil rights were violated, the Minnesota Attorney General knew the work toward justice was far from over.

“Justice to me means a form of reform and real change.” Prosecutor Keith Ellison He told USA Today. “I’ve always felt that we had to win this case in order to get justice, but winning the case wouldn’t get justice.”

After 2022 The death of Amir Lok By another police officer in Minneapolis, the state legislature passed restrictions on “no-knock” warrants. a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension report It found Hennepin County to be the most requested and implemented in 2022.

O’Hara took command of the Minneapolis Police in 2022 and said a big area of ​​reform he wants to work on is culture and engaging with communities by auditing camera footage and taking corrective actions.

The Minneapolis Police Officer Standards and Training Board could not revoke Chauvin’s license without a criminal conviction for murder. In 2023, the standards changed, and the board can now revoke licenses for conduct violations and use of excessive or unreasonable force.

O’Hara oversaw the consent decree issued by the Newark Police Department, similar to Minneapolis, To hold her ministry accountable for reform.

“Our people are tremendous, they really are. They’re just working in a broken system,” O’Hara said.

But Hennepin County District Attorney Mary Moriarty, who singled out Minneapolis police for not working closely with her office, has a different view. “We need all hands on deck here to support actual deep reform, and that we don’t have here right now,” Moriarty said.

‘There was a lot of optimism’

US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Jesse Jackson walk from the Hennepin County Government Center after the conclusion of arguments in the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin.

Four years ago, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, hoped that the trauma her district and the black community had experienced would begin to shift.

“There was a lot of optimism about what that moment could bring,” Omar recently told USA TODAY.

age One time, ShamBioNed Calling for defunding the police, but she said now, instead of sapping the force, she would prefer some resources dedicated to racial equity and community safety programs.

“[It] “It was an ambitious call and a cry,” she said. “It’s something a lot of people hold on to and what’s possible is the desire to have customization.”

She added Congress’ inaction regarding George Floyd Justice in Police Law And the Amir Lok ends no-knock warrants law Faltering hopes for federal legislation. “The lack of transformative change has been heartbreaking,” Omar said.

Abdul-Ahad said that while many want to move past Floyd’s death, teamwork and results will help make that happen.

“We’re not just trying to rebuild the city’s infrastructure, we’re trying to rebuild its character, trust, communities. Even love.”

Sam Woodward It can be reached atswoodward@gannett.com. Terry Collins can be reached at tcollins@gannett.com.

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