Minneapolis police are much more likely to arrest blacks or Native Americans than whites for minor crimes including trespassing, curfew violation, and marijuana possession, according to local ACLU officials. The analysis comes at a time of increased public scrutiny of police practices in the light of unrest in Baltimore and other cities across the country.
In an analysis of police data, the ACLU of Minnesota found that while white people make up 64 percent of the city’s population, they account for just 23 percent of those arrests. In contrast, black people make up 19 percent of the population and 59 percent of low-level arrests. Overall, black people are nine times more likely to be arrested for low-level crimes than whites, and black youth are six times more likely to be arrested.
"We've become the new South," said Anthony Newby, executive director of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change in North Minneapolis, a grassroots advocacy group, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. "We've become the new premier example of how to systematically oppress people of color."
The report included recommendations for the Minneapolis Police Department to reverse the trend. Those methods include removing incentives that reward officers for more arrests, improving policies banning racial profiling and expanding recorded police data to include non-arrests. Currently, the arrest data includes traffic stops that result in a ticket. The report also acknowledged that police had taken steps to address the issue.
“We believe that fundamentally the tactics need to change, the training needs to change," said Chuck Samuelson, the executive director of the ACLU of Minnesota. "If you are going to criminalize behavior, then you've got to enforce it among everybody. ... You need to enforce the laws based on behavior, and not by color."
The study evaluated nearly 100,000 low-level offenses from January 2012 through the end of September 2014. Evaluations of other ethnic groups, such as Hispanic and Asian communities, was not included as the reporting methods were inconclusive.