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The city's real-time response to the civil unrest that unfolded across Minneapolis following George Floyd's murder was uncoordinated, disorganized and plagued with poor communication.

That's according to a damning independent audit released Tuesday, reviewing how city leadership and key departments handled the 10 days of protests, riots and destruction following Floyd's death, Key findings from the report, researched and reported by the firm Hillard Heintze, were discussed during a Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The audit — which can be read here — paints a picture of fundamental failures on the part of leadership that left both residents and rank-and-file officers in the dark during an unprecedented 10-day period in the city's history. As Robert Boehmer, project manager of the audit, put it: Community members, police department staff and city employees believe "the response did not go well."

The audit comprised nearly 90 interviews, discussions with focus groups, listening sessions, and reviews of more than 2,400 documents plus 30-35 hours of police body cam footage. It resulted in 25 findings and 27 recommendations, 

But the bottom line is, the city was "unprepared" for what happened, Boehmer said.

Among the findings discussed during the committee meeting and mentioned in the report:

  • The city has a "well written, comprehensive and consistent" emergency operations plan, yet:
    •  Mayor Jacob Frey "did not ensure the appropriate implementation" of that plan; 
    • The Office of Emergency Management "minimally engaged in its coordination role"; 
    • And the city's police and fire departments didn't follow the emergency operations plan in their response to the unrest.
  • The Minneapolis Police Department, in response to the developing crisis, did not create any formal crisis response plans and did not hold any formal planning efforts, meaning nobody formally discussed, "If this occurs, then this will be our response," Boehmer said.
  • Neither MPD nor Mayor Frey knew the correct process for requesting support from the Minnesota National Guard, which led to delays in getting resources — even though this policy is in place and clearly established.
  • Communication to on-the-ground police officers was ineffective and inconsistent
    • Said Boehmer: "They weren't getting information, they weren't learning what was going on across the city, weren't learning what was going on perhaps on the other side of the precinct, and they weren't getting a lot of information from leadership on what they should or shouldn't be doing."
  • Officers also were not given rules of engagement (meaning when they should or shouldn't use things like less-lethal rounds or chemical agents) by supervisors, leadership never provided it; bodycam footage showed that behavior sometimes was aligned with policy, while other times it wasn't.
    • Supervisors weren't able to account for which officers carried these 40 mm weapons, or who deployed less-lethal munitions.
  • As police responded to the swelling unrest, there was no guidance regarding the department's response to routine calls coming in throughout the city.
  • The City of Minneapolis and Minneapolis Police Department didn't put out any briefings to tell the community, council members or other public employees about what was going on — with these only beginning once the state stepped in.
  • The lack of communication from the police department and city officials left members of the public in the dark, which resulted in residents banding together and "acting on their own and doing what they thought was needed with very little guidance or even situational awareness," the report says.

The perceived absence of leadership from the city and police department meant many community members — already wary of MPD — fully lost trust in the police force, the report says. Some interviewees even mentioned MPD's initial press release about Floyd's death, which said he "physically resisted" officers and began suffering "medical distress."

Business owners spoken to for the audit also felt they had to “fend for themselves” as crowds descended upon the area.

Some of the interview subjects also described "minimal direction" from Mayor Frey's office and other city departments, describing it as "rudderless." Some also believed Frey, former Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and Gov. Tim Walz were "notably absent when people felt they should have been present."

The after-action report is an independent audit of how city officials responded to the civil unrest in the wake of Floyd's murder. This included large streets protests, with destruction and riots from smaller groups that spun off, in some cases encouraged by outsiders with other agendas.

Dozens of businesses in Minneapolis were damaged, looted or destroyed from May 25 through June 3, 2020. Rioters also stormed and set fire to the Minneapolis Police Department's 3rd Precinct building, actions that have led to federal criminal convictions.

Video, images and first-hand accounts from those days show a heavy law enforcement presence, with some officers at times appearing to use tear gas, flashbangs and less-lethal ammunition indiscriminately. Bodycam footage released as part of the case involving Jaleel Stallings (who was acquitted) shows Minneapolis police officers talking about "hunting" people on the streets, as well as officers beating Stallings on the ground.

Former Mayor Betsy Hodges argued this after-action should have been released prior to the 2021 elections, so voters "could have had the answers to these critically important questions" before casting a ballot. She contrasted this timeline with her own following the police shooting of Jamar Clark and the aftermath, which was released in 15 months. 

Current Council Member Linea Palmisano, in a direct rebuke, said the mayor requested an after-action report in June of 2020, but alleged that the Trump administration denied funding — which meant Frey and Palmisano had to hunt down funding at a time during a financial crisis, leading to a delay.=

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