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Minnesota activist group calls for ban on high-speed police chases

This follows the deaths of 2 teens during a pursuit involving Robbinsdale police.

A Twin Cities activist group is demanding an end to high-speed police pursuits, describing them as a "dangerous and unnecessary behavior."

On Saturday, the Racial Justice Network (RJN) issued a press release calling for a ban on such chases, saying that "multiple young lives have been unnecessarily taken this year due to high-speed police pursuits, which also threaten the safety of innocent bystanders in our community."

This comes in the wake of the deaths of two teens following a high-speed chase involving Robbinsdale police officers this past week. It happened Thursday, December 9, when the officers spotted a Mercedes SUV that had been reported stolen in Minneapolis. 

They attempted to pull it over, but the suspects fled, and the officers ended up pursuing them into Minneapolis — where the suspect vehicle crashed at the intersection of Hayes Street Northeast and Northeast Lowry Avenue.

The force of the crash split the SUV in half. There were five juveniles in the vehicle; one teenager died at the scene and the four others were taken to the hospital, where a second person died. The survivors were treated for "substantial, non-life-threatening injuries," authorities said.

In its news release, RJN says there are still "many unanswered questions" about the incident, including "the speed at which the officers were driving, and the alternatives used to address the situation prior to the initiation of a high-speed chase."

"There is no justification for these dangerous police chases that too-often result in people being killed, and without due process under law," RJN added.

The group is calling on Gov. Tim Walz, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Robbinsdale Mayor Bill Blonigan "to intervene and call for an end to high speed police chases in Minnesota and to hold police officers accountable for this dangerous and unnecessary behavior."

In a statement, RJN member Sonja Western also urged Minnesotans to "call and write to our City Council, respective Mayors, State Representatives, and Governor Walz to hold them accountable for their role in dangerous and poorly-enforced police policies."

RJN goes on to note that nine deaths have occurred in Minnesota as a result of high-speed pursuits since October 2020:

  • October 2020: Three teenagers killed during a high speed chase in North Minneapolis.
  • July 6, 2021: Leneal Frazier, an innocent motorist, killed during a high-speed chase involving Minneapolis police.
  • September 3, 2021: Two teenagers, ages 14 and 15, killed as a result of a high-speed chase initiated by North St. Paul police.
  • September 5, 2021: A high-speed chase initiated by the Eden Prairie Police Department results in the death of a 19-year-old.
  • December 9, 2021: The above-mentioned incident involving Robbinsdale police.

The group ends its release by imploring "mayors, police chiefs and prosecutors to fire and prosecute all officers whose reckless behavior during police pursuits lead to stolen lives."

In 2015, a USA Today report found that high-speed police chases have killed more than 5,000 passengers and bystanders since 1979. 

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