Skip to main content

Study: In Minneapolis, people of color far more likely to be arrested for low-level crimes

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

People of color are nearly nine times more likely to be arrested by Minneapolis police for a low-level crime than whites, a new study by the American Civil Liberties Union shows.

The study – Picking up the Pieces: Policing in America, a Minneapolis Case Study, and done by the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Projectanalyzed more than 96,000 arrests made by Minneapolis police for low-level crimes from January 2012 through September 2014.

It found Black people are 8.7 times more likely to be arrested than white people for a low-level crime – that's any offense with a fine of $3,000 or less and/or a year or less in jail; while American Indians are 8.6 times more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts.

The report says the disparities in arrests become "more disconcerting" when the racial makeup of Minneapolis is taken into account:

The report goes into detail about the types of arrests, where they occur most frequently, details on the arrests of homeless people and youths, and takes a look at how police are viewed in poorer neighborhoods in the city. (View the full report here.)

Just like any other city

The Twin Cities is often atop lists ranking the best places to live and work, but TIME points out the disparities and distrust with police in Minneapolis show the city suffers the same problems as many other metropolitan areas.

“Minneapolis police show the same patterns of racial bias that we’re seeing across the country and that demands reform,” Emma Andersson, staff attorney with the ACLU, said in a news release.

She told TIME, "I think communities of color in Minneapolis certainly feel oppressed and targeted in the same ways communities in Baltimore and other places where unrest has occurred."

"It’s very disturbing to see that African Americans and Native Americans continue to face oppression within our criminal justice system,” Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, told the Guardian. “I think that the results of the ACLU’s findings show that there is a need to overhaul our system of policing.”

Progress – but more needs to be done

The report does note the steps Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau and the department have taken to improve these disparities, but officials say more needs to be done.

Harteau spoke with MPR News Thursday after the study was released and said she wasn't completely surprised by the results, noting the police presence is higher in areas with more crime – and those neighborhoods tend to have large populations of poor people of color.

She also noted efforts to reduce the tension between people of color and police, and said she has asked for a federal audit of the department's disciplinary system.

"The ACLU commends ... Harteau for recent changes, such as adding implicit bias training," Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the ACLU of Minnesota, said in a news release. "However these changes are only a start."

The ACLU is urging Harteau and policymakers to strengthen the department's current ban on racial profiling; ensure the evaluation system doesn't reward officers for number of stops and arrests; establish a civilian review body to discipline officers when necessary; and expand pre-arrest diversion programs.

Mayor: A reminder of the work we have to do

Mayor Betsy Hodges released a statement Thursday, saying she will continue to working to lessen the gap for people of color, adding:

“This data is another reminder of the work that we have in front of us, the work that I am committed to doing. It comes at a fortuitous time as we are focused on criminal justice reform, particularly when it comes to youth. The more information we have, the better."

Hodges also pointed out several initiatives underway to help close equity gaps between people of color and their white counterparts, including youth violence prevention, the Minneapolis Promise Zone and reforming the juvenile justice system.

There are also policy changes underway. City Council members have been pushing to repeal laws that critics say police have used to unfairly target people of color.

The City Council is set to vote to ban these laws next week, MPR News notes.

Next Up

MissingMankatoWomanSideBySide

Body of missing Mankato woman believed to have been found

A canoer found the body in a swamp near Eagle Lake Friday.

kim crockett facebook sos

MN GOP endorses attorney general, secretary of state candidates

Kim Crockett was endorsed as the party's candidate for secretary of state, while Jim Schultz won the endorsement for attorney general.

FSmb9kkWAB0UBqk

Volunteer firefighter identified as man killed during Thursday storms

The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office confirmed that 63-year-old Ryan Erickson died when a grain bin fell on him.

Juan Ramos, standing outside of his Taco Chon Mexican Grill, in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Firm takes on case defending Taco Chon against Taco John's lawsuit

The local Mexican restaurant is fighting a case presented by Taco John's over naming rights, among other things.

Screen Shot 2022-05-14 at 7.32.27 AM

Worker killed in skid loader accident was 23-year-old apprentice lineman

Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative called the incident "the unthinkable."

Cascade River 1

Raging North Shore rivers overtake bridges, snap trees in half

Pedestrian bridges near the Lutsen Resort have been damaged by the vast river flow.

u.s. attorney's office

St. Paul man sentenced for 2021 robbery spree

Warren Dean, 27, admitted to robbing seven St. Paul businesses in a span of three days.

FSmfYf0WABgrNhI

Stevens County may have been hit the hardest by Thursday storms

The entire county was without power after the storms blew through Thursday evening.

State Patrol

3 killed, 1 critical after trio of crashes in Minnesota Thursday

One person also faces life-threatening injuries in a crash that happened in Olmsted County.

Screen Shot 2022-05-13 at 1.25.08 PM

Mora woman saves pelican caught in fishing line for days

A birthday fishing trip shapes into a heroic tale.

Related