Report: State late in response to unrest after Floyd killing



An external review of Minnesota’s response to days of civil unrest following the May 2020 killing of George Floyd found several weaknesses, including a lack of clear leadership early on as businesses were being destroyed and set ablaze, and a failure to discern peaceful from unlawful protesters.

The report by Wilder Research, commissioned by the Department of Public Safety and made public Thursday, says Minnesota can do more to address tensions between law enforcement and communities, and must incorporate a deeper sense of humanity in the way it responds to civil unrest in the future.

“Further research and evaluation are needed to understand the role of racism and other forms of bias in law enforcement responses to civil unrest and determine additional steps to address community distrust in law enforcement and state government,” the report also found.

The report, which examined the state’s actions from May 26 through June 7, 2020, listed 20 recommendations to improve the state’s response and find ways to prevent such civil unrest from happening again.

Three “critical recommendations” include: strengthening coordination between multiple agencies; improving coordination and relationships with local jurisdictions and the media; and addressing tension between law enforcement and communities through trust-building efforts, police accountability and transformation, and education.

Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said in a letter to Gov. Tim Walz that his agency has already made changes to improve communication and police accountability, including implementing some of the report’s recommendations.

Floyd, who was Black, was killed May 25, 2020, when former Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for about nine and a half minutes as Floyd was handcuffed and lying face-down on the pavement. Bystander video showed Floyd said multiple times that he couldn’t breathe, before he eventually went silent and stopped moving.

The killing sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the globe as part of a reckoning over racial injustice. In Minneapolis, some of the protests became violent as businesses, and even a police station, were ransacked and burned.

The report said that unrest was unprecedented, and left local and state agencies overextended.

Local police and emergency responders couldn’t respond to many calls for help. Several state agencies, as well as the National Guard, were called in — but the report noted they were not experienced in handling large-scale civil disturbances over such an extended period.

The report found that the state was too late in setting up a multi-agency command center to coordinate response, and that several local agencies were following different rules of engagement. There was also a lack of communication, leading some communities and businesses to take matters into their own hands. Some of the response by state agencies was also viewed as escalating by some.

The report also noted some strengths. Among them, it found the state acknowledged that the community had legitimate concerns after Floyd’s killing. It also noted that small mobile field force units were effective in addressing unrest in multiple locations. The report said that a curfew, when enforced, was also effective.

A report issued earlier this month on the city’s response to the Minneapolis protests was sharply critical and included several recommendations, including improving police training on crowd control tactics.

Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter and also pleaded guilty in federal court to violating Floyd’s civil rights. Three other former officers were also convicted of federal civil rights violations and are awaiting trial on state charges of aiding and betting both murder and manslaughter.

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Find AP’s full coverage of the killing of George Floyd at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd


www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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