Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey shared his reaction Wednesday afternoon to the findings of a state-led investigation that produced widespread evidence of racist, discriminatory policing in the city.
The 72-page report by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights examined city and MPD conduct over the past decade and documented an illegal "pattern or practice of race discrimination."
"We have a hell of a lot of work to do as a city — we have a hell of a lot of work to do in this nation " Frey said Wednesday, calling the report's findings "repugnant" and "at times horrific."
"They made me sick to my stomach and outraged and I think that our community feels the same way," he said.
Frey, who has had authority over MPD since he took office in 2018, opposed efforts to replace MPD with a new Department of Public Safety last November, instead calling for reforms that opponents believe are insufficient to change the culture and misconduct within the department.
The human rights report criticized city and police leaders past and present for failing to make the changes needed to city policing. It notes that "current and former Mayors and high-level City leaders" claimed "they did not have the necessary authority or political will and support to manage the police department."
"However, the Mayor has held this power for decades," the report notes.
Frey's November 2020 announcement that the city was banning "no-knock warrants" was also mentioned as it later emerged – fatally in the case of Amir Locke in February 2022 – that their use had not been eradicated at all.
"In some cases where City and MPD leaders have attempted to implement change, those attempts were eroded by City and MPD leaders providing inaccurate or misleading information to the public. For instance, as of December 2020, community members believed that MPD had eliminated their practice of requesting no-knock warrants, in part, because City and MPD leaders held a press conference in November 2020, announcing a “new, no-knock warrant policy.” Despite what some leaders may have understood about the policy change and despite how the policy change was communicated to the public, MPD had not banned no-knock warrants. Rather, MPD’s updated no-knock warrant policy simply memorialized what the SWAT team had already been permitted to do for years, which was to perform no-knock warrants"
On Wednesday, Frey said city leaders are united and "galvanized" around a mission to shift the culture of policing and the community more broadly.
"I feel this conviction to my core right now to make these changes," he said.
Frey took several questions regarding the report's findings that officers consistently used "racist, misogynistic, and otherwise disrespectful language."
Frey was unable to specifically answer why this conduct had not been addressed swiftly and adequately in the past, and said he needs more time to review the findings.
LaTrisha Vetaw, a Minneapolis City Council member, and Saray Garnett-Hochuli, the city's director of regulatory services, both said the report's findings aren't surprising.
"This news is not a surprise to the Black community and it's not a surprise to me," Garnett-Hochuli said. "What pains me is that we needed a report to validate what Black people have been saying for decades."
The MDHR report painted a picture of years of sustained, deeply-ingrained racism and misogyny within MPD, aggressive policing towards community members, and a lack of accountability for officer misconduct.
It contain examples of MPD officers and supervisors using extremely racist and sexist language towards or about people of color and women.
It also sets out how MPD has disproportionately stopped, searched, arrested and used force on Black people, with one officer quoted as saying in the report they are "paranoid" around Black individuals, and that they "don't feel this way around other races."
Interim MPD Chief Amelia Huffman said the report is "deeply concerning" and the findings will be reviewed thoroughly while MPD continues to cooperate with the ongoing federal Department of Justice investigation.
Huffman also praised the work of MPD officers during Wednesday's press conference, before saying there's no place for bias and discrimination within the department.
"We come to work each day to care for and safeguard community members, protecting lives and safety, promoting the peace and preserving the rights of each person," she said. "That is why we became police officers."