Minneapolis' mayor and police chief have asked a federal law enforcement group to review the city's handling of protesters who occupied the grounds outside the Fourth Precinct police station for more than two weeks last fall.
The request from Mayor Betsy Hodges and Police Chief Janeé Harteau asks the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office to conduct an independent review of the city's response, Hodges and Harteau said in a joint announcement.
Protesters led by the group Black Lives Matter reacted to the fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark in November by marching to the Fourth Precinct, the station closest to where Clark was killed.
What began as a sit-in in the vestibule at the Fourth Precinct included some tense moments, during which officers sprayed chemical irritants at some in the crowd.
Eventually it turned into an 18-day occupation that included protesters sharing a Thanksgiving dinner.
Finally, just before 4 a.m. on Dec. 3, police – some in riot gear and others operating heavy machinery – dismantled the encampment and dispersed the protesters.
Two women later sued the city, saying police used unreasonable force against them during a Nov. 18 confrontation. The city says officers were justified in the force they used.
Purpose of the review
Harteau says the COPS office often provides independent reviews for local police departments. COPS launched a comprehensive review of the San Francisco Police Department on Monday. Milwaukee's department is among the others they're working with.
Hodges says the review will provide the city with insights about what was done well in Minneapolis' handling of the Fourth Precinct occupation and "where we can do better in the future."
Their statement says the goal is to learn lessons that Minneapolis and other cities and law enforcement agencies can use to build trust and improve relationships with the communities they serve.