The Voices of Protesters Are Being Heard in Minnesota

State officials have moved to seek justice for George Floyd and his family.

Just as we are seeing from around the country, protests over the killing of George Floyd continue in Minnesota.

I thought it might be helpful to share some good news about how all of this is making a difference. Several institutions in my home state are taking the necessary steps in the process of bringing justice for both Floyd and his family.

First of all, Minnesota State Attorney General Keith Ellison has taken over the case against the four police officers who were involved in Floyd’s death.

Gov. Tim Walz announced Ellison’s appointment as lead prosecutor shortly after the Hennepin County prosecutor said he had asked Ellison to “assist” in the investigation, two days after 10 members representing Minneapolis in the state House asked Walz in a letter to transfer the case to Ellison.

“Unfortunately, our constituents, especially constituents of color, have lost faith in the ability of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to fairly and impartially investigate and prosecute these cases,” the letter said.

Ellison isn’t wasting any time.

Perhaps more importantly, the Minnesota Human Rights Department has opened an investigation into possible civil rights violations in the Minneapolis Police Department.

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights will launch an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department after filing a civil rights charge related to the death of George Floyd, who died while being pinned to the street by police last week.

The probe, announced Tuesday by Gov. Tim Walz, will look at Minneapolis police policies and procedures over the past 10 years to determine whether the department has engaged in discriminatory practices toward people of color…

[Human Rights Commissioner] Lucero said this will differ from past examinations of the police department. First, the state Human Rights Department will work with city leaders to try to make some quick changes, she said. There will also be a longer process to potentially reach a consent decree, which can be enforced by the courts, Lucero said.

“This is not a report. This is something that will result in court action and require change,” she said.

Several major institutions have cut ties to the Minneapolis Police Department, including the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Public Schools, and the city’s Park Board.

Finally, as the public begins to acknowledge the role of the Minneapolis Police Federation in failing to hold officers accountable for the kinds of abuses that led to the death of George Floyd, calls for the resignation of the federation’s president are intensifying. One in particular stands out.

None of this guarantees the kind of change that is necessary in order to fix the problems with the Minneapolis Police Department or ensure justice for George Floyd. But they are all significant steps in the right direction.

Given the endemic nature of the problem, it is clear that none of this would be happening without thousands of voices being raised in protest. So in the words of Ella Baker, “we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.