Three Minnesota Senate Republicans have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Minneapolis Police Department and its response to the unrest following George Floyd's death on May 25.
Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) Sen. Bill Ingegrightsen (R-Alexandria) and Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester) wrote a letter to the Department of Justice Monday asking for a "practice-or-pattern" investigation, which is used in allegations of "serious patterns and practices of excessive force, biased policing, and other unconstitutional practices of law enforcement," a news release says.
The trio of Senators also held a news conference Tuesday announcing their request, with Sen. Newman saying talk from Minneapolis City Council members about dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department is "frightening."
The letter states they're requesting the investigation because under the current circumstances, "we do not feel it is possible to protect the civil rights of the citizens of the city of Minneapolis" if the Minneapolis City Council follows through with its proposal.
The city council has embarked on a year-long study to investigate alternative strategies to public safety, crime prevention, and responses to emergency calls. MPD is fully functioning while this study is carried out.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is already conducting a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department in the wake of George Floyd's killing, but the Republican senators don't believe it'll do so objectively.
“The Department of Justice has the resources and experience necessary to conduct a fair, thorough investigation on behalf of the city and our state,” Newman said, according to the release. “While the Minnesota Department of Human Rights has been ordered to conduct a similar inquiry, I do not believe that office has the proper resources, staffing, and training necessary for an objective investigation."
Newman said that comments from Department of Human Rights commissioner Rebecca Lucero in which she said there was "systemic racism" within the MPD should disqualify the department because it cannot conduct a "meaningful, unbiased investigation."
"The commissioner’s own comments have effectively disqualified her agency from conducting a meaningful, unbiased investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department," Newman added.
But the Department of Justice, which is expected to consider the senators' request in the coming weeks, has been heavily criticized under the leadership of Attorney General William Barr, who has worked closely with President Donald Trump and sought to protect him from political and legal attacks.
With Trump only backing minor reforms to police and having been heavily against a reduction of funding for or the dismantling of police departments, the suggestion that the DOJ investigates the MPD has been met with criticism from Minnesota DFLers, including one House staffer, who tweeted: