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Leading law firm severs ties with Minneapolis prosecutors after George Floyd's killing

Dorsey & Whitney is ending its program providing legal services for misdemeanor prosecutions.

A leading Twin Cities law firm has announced it's cutting its ties in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Across five decades, Dorsey & Whitney has been aiding the city in the prosecution of misdemeanor cases, but is ending its Minneapolis City Attorney's program following the killing in custody of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

"Dorsey & Whitney shares the sadness and the outrage expressed throughout Minnesota and the world over George Floyd’s killing, as well as over the long history of such injustice,” said Managing Partner Bill Stoeri in a statement Tuesday.

"Healing can only occur by addressing the systemic racism that plagues us. Dorsey is immediately placing an even greater emphasis on pro bono work that helps rebuild communities, and will no longer support misdemeanor prosecutions in Minneapolis. We must be part of the solution, and that means concrete action to assist the community and a re-examining of our own programs and practices."

The announcement came on the same day that Minneapolis Public Schools voted in favor of ending its contract with the Minneapolis Police Department over the death of Floyd.

The police department will no longer supply the city's public schools with school resource officers, with the district due to unveil an alternative safety plan by mid-August.

The University of Minnesota meanwhile has said it will stop contracting with the Minneapolis Police Department for large events such as Gophers games, as well as for specialized services such as K-9 officers.

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Dorsey & Whitney says that prosecution of misdemeanors disproportionately impact the black community, and this was "an important factor" in its decision to cut its ties with prosecutions in Minneapolis, after more than 40 years.

The law firm employs almost 600 attorneys across 20 offices, but its headquarters are in Minneapolis.

Star Tribune reporter Nicole Norfleet noted that D&W handled about 400 trial cases a year for the Minneapolis City Attorney's Office, a significant chunk of the 1,200 to 2,000 cases the office deals with a year.

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