Minnesota: may not be a safe place to be black.

The state of Minnesota is filled with inland waterways and is an image of the days of the Pioneers who settled it and began farming. They were immigrants from Europe and white. Minnesota is still 83%white and has historically excluded other races. Minneapolis, the largest city in the state, reflects the state population with 63% white and 19% black.

Whites still move to the town seeking its diversity and thriving economy. Still, black and other minorities face low wages, segregation, and a hostile police force that has existed before the death of George Floyd.


In the beginning, Minnesota was a Territory, and in 1885, it became the thirty-second states in the union. In 1861 at the start of the Civil War, Minnesota was the first state to send men to fight. But in 1862, a battle occurred when the Dakota native tribes attempted to reclaim the land taken by settlers who broke the treaty and moved to western Minnesota. With the help of the local militia, they defeated the Dakota, and 303 were convicted of treason. One of those sentenced was a black man Joseph Godfrey. The mass hanging of 38 Dakota men was conducted on December 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota; it was the largest mass execution in United States history.

The state government sought to purge all that were non-whites out of the state. It, although a free state, banned blacks except if they were slaves to live in Minnesota. But following the Civil War, blacks from the south migrated north, serving as common laborers.

In 1863 a steamboat named the Davenport brought two hundred former slaves to St.Paul’s port; to Duluth to work in the steel mills and the barges on the Mississippi River.

In 1865 and 1867, the Minnesota government would not allow blacks, native Americans, and non-whites to vote.

Minnesota sought to control minorities’ growth by allowing what was known as “restrictive laws” to segregate housing, employment, and education.

“’Night Riders’ Will Attack Carnival.”

By 1871 the Ku Klux Klan rose to power in Minnesota, known as the “North Star Klan.” The North Star Klan worked to stop the growth of the federal civil rights act of 1871. Jews, Catholics, and Blacks had targeted attacks on their homes and businesses and places of worship. In 1923 Minnesota had 51 chapters of the Klan with 30,000 members.


The 1920 race riots that plagued America consumed Minnesota when three black circus workers were accused of raping a white woman in Duluth, Minnesota. Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isacc McGhie were arrested and then dragged from their cells, and then lynched from a telephone pole. The police watched their murders, but the three leaders were captured and convicted of only rioting. But none served more than 15 months in jail for rioting and none for the murders. That year after the lynching, Minnesota passed an anti-lynching law.

The 1929 depression deeply affected the state’s economy with limited jobs and resources; people of color stopped moving to the state. Those living in Minnesota lived in fear of the Klan and poverty. By 1930 blacks only made up 2% of the state’s overall population and were segregated to only the larger urban cities of Minneapolis, St.Paul, and Duluth. Minorities had limited voting power and access to the now growing jobs in the states growing industrial economy.

President Roosevelt created the “new deal” that applied anti-discrimination regulations that committed jobs for blacks and other minorities during world war two.

As world war two began, so did a new migration by blacks and others to work in the better-paying jobs in the Midwest and places that offered less of a threat than the south from racism. The steel mills and inland waterways of Minnesota allowed for the building of ships and companies like General Mills that developed products to feed soldiers.

The rise of the labor unions in the late 1930 and into 1940 impacted the number of blacks to the Twin Cities region searching for union jobs.

But the issue of racism, antisemitism, and segregation in Minnesota, both in the state government and cities, was pervasive. The population of Minnesota remained more than 98.4% white in 1950, and the economy moved to an industrial one and less of a agricultural one that was a part of its beginning. Blacks were the most significant minority but still were only 1.3% of the state’s population. But minorities faced discrimination in housing, jobs, and education as their population slowly grew.

By 1966 Minneapolis faced violent racial unrest. The “long hot summers “ of this era plagued America, with 159 cities facing violence and unrest by black and Latino Americans. Minneapolis experienced the Plymouth riots that occurred on July 19, 1967. Mayor Naftalin requested then-Governor Harold LeVander for Minnesota send in the National Guard.

The community suffered 4.2 million dollars in the destruction of property in the black community. There was no loss of life, but local media and Minneapolis political leaders assessed that outside agitators caused the riot. Policymakers rejected that discrimination and poverty were the cause and concluded that increased Policing was the answer; a grand jury was formed to investigate The Way Community Center staff which worked on socials issues and concluded police acted within the law.


During the 1970 and the ’80s, Minnesota became the center of the rise in high tech and the new digital state. An economic shift from the heavy industry of steel and agriculture. The Twin Cities and the University of Minnesota produced computer research that created high-tech entrepreneurial leaders. Companies like Target, Uni-Systems, and 3M company were the result of the new economy in the twin cities region. a newly educated population relocated to the area and increased the household wages of whites but failed to produce the same results for minorities. 
The success of Minnesota also brought more blacks and minorities from other cities like Chicago and Detroit to Minneapolis, looking for safer communities and better schools. In the 1980s the city of Minneapolis, the population of blacks increased from 7.6% to 12.9% by 1990. The Latinx from 1.3 to 2.0 % by 1990.

In 1980 Minneapolis and St.Paul created the family housing fund to develop 10,500 units to improve this growing population’s living conditions and maintain the segregation of its neighborhoods. It would make a 3million dollar industry with 8,000 new jobs. But it did not improve the quality of education or economy for the minority communities.

Myron Orfield, professor of Law at the University of Minnesota, wrote in “American Metropolitics: The New Suburban Reality” that Minnesota had three factors racial inequity, segregation, and police brutality.

During the 1990 period into the year, Minneapolis experienced a revival in new corporate growth seen in the 1960s. The city became home to more corporate headquarters than any city in the U.S.The educated middle class relocated to the twin cities seeking the low cost of living, and an income per capita of household elevated from $34,000 to $54,000 by the year 2000.


At this time, The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, known as the Clinton Biden crime bill, was created. There was a statewide effort to build up the military hardware and training for the war on drugs. The violent crime rate continued to surge upward to a high of 13,392 in 1990. The twin cities were determined to be tough on crime and instituted the “warrior methodology” of policing the minority communities. This policy spread throughout the state, and the war was directed at drugs and possession of them. The Minnesota criminal code book increased from 32 pages to 228 pages long. The incarceration rate went from 46 per 100,000 in 1981 to 72 per 100,000 in 1991

and continued to climb upward.

Human rights watch reported that Minneapolis had a history of excessive force against minorities. The former police chief Robert Olsen of Minneapolis stated that his officers were brutal and wanted to “kick asses.” In 1995 chief Olsen developed a disciplinary policy matrix for officers. But the police union battled with the city and made it difficult to file complaints against officers. Immigrants from Somalia, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia have brought Minneapolis a more ethnically diverse population. Blacks and Latinos faced increasing competition for jobs during the 1990s, and crime also surged.

The election of a liberal crime fighter and the failure of justice in Minnesota: Amy Klobuchar was elected Hennepin County attorney in 1998.

Amy Klobuchar was swept into the Hennepin County District Attorney position as a hard-nosed crime-fighting Prosecutor who was going to take back the streets. But she never protected the black community from the violence of a racist police force.

Amy Klobuchar is currently the U.S. Senator from Minnesota, but in 1998, she was elected as District Attorney of Hennepin County to fix a County known as Murderapolis.” While she was the D.A., she had the backing of the F.O.P., and the city of Minneapolis paid 4.8 million dollars for police misconduct (122 actions ) and 29 civilian deaths. Klobuchar did not charge any officers while a prosecutor in seven years. She would later say, “she regretted using the Grand Jury instead of deciding herself if a case should be prosecuted. “ The police shot and killed twenty-five people, and four died in police custody.

Nekima Levy Armstrong, a lawyer and former president of the Minneapolis N.A.A.C.P. As for the past, Levy Armstrong says, “It’s important for someone like Amy Klobuchar to acknowledge the mistakes that she made and the harm that she caused and to make amends.”

Teresa Nelson of the A.C.L.U. “stated that Klobuchar showed no interest in improving racial justice or prosecuting police misconduct. She claimed that her work was to reduce the incarceration rate, but there was little change in her seven years.

In 1967 the Minnesota Legislature created the Metropolitan Council, which has been involved with reducing segregation. But, it found that in the year 2000, a new issue of resegregation for minorities in the suburbs. Brooklyn center’s population of minorities increased between 1980 and 2000; the city population grew to 30,000 between this time.

Blacks, however, are in poverty at 27.9% and Hispanics at 23.8%, and whites at only 6% but making up 44.5 % of the population.The pattern of racial segregation continues with housing in the twin cities. Still, more blacks in 1990 began to move to the local suburban cities like Brooklyn center, the most racially diverse community in the twin cities.The Brooklyn Center, Maplewood, and Hopkins all have faced “white flight” from these cities, with blacks living below the poverty line three times higher than their white counterparts. Throughout the twin cities and suburbs, the crime rate continued to spiral upward, and excessive force and deaths of minorities by police from the 1990s to 2020.


The state’s police officers are a part of The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (M.P.P.O.A.). The organization serves the municipal police officers, county deputy sheriffs, correctional officers, and other public safety professionals in Minnesota. The M.P.P.O.A. is the largest association representing public safety professionals in the State of Minnesota.

The police union in Minneapolis has become the source of support for excessive force since the 1990s. In 2015 Bob Kroll became the police union leader; his election defeated a long-time union leader on a platform that there was no excessive force and to keep the city safe, you need to punish criminals with fear. (killology) Many felt Kroll reflected a police union of officers that rejected the 21 Century methods instituted by President Obama in 2015.

Kroll refused this policy of then-police chief Janee Harteau, the first women chief in Minneapolis. As Kroll consistently challenged police Chief Harteau’s efforts, Kroll faced several lawsuits for excessive force and was demoted by internal affairs.

During his time as a police officer, he was a part of three officer-involved shootings. He called Congressman Keith Ellison a terrorist after he leads the protest for the death of Jamal Clark. Ellison is the current Minnesota Attorney General. Kroll has been sued for racism by three black officers and called Black Lives Matter a terrorist organization.

In Minnesota, the police unions have set the pattern for training and behavior patterns for training in the state. In 1977, the M.P.P.O.A. helped establish the Peace Officers Standards and Training Board (P.O.S.T.), the first law enforcement licensing system in the United States.

But these standards and policies of embracing the warrior mindset have served as the root cause of excessive force in the state. The training has been applied to officers in major cities, suburbs, or rural communities. It has been reflected in the cases of excessive force that lead to deaths of minorities compared to whites in Minnesota. For example, between 2013–21, in Minneapolis, the police killed 14 people five blacks, three whites, two Asians,1 Hispanic, and two native Americans.

The primary source for training new police is the “Force Science Institute,” founded in 2004 by William Lewinski. A former college professor in Minnesota, Lewinski, in the 1990s, was a trainer of Minneapolis police to react to what they view as a threat. And respond with a greater force to protect themselves from a potential perpetrator.

Minnesota reported many of its officers had been trained by coursework created by the F.S.I. and used this organization for continued education. But the organization’s training has been used in Minnesota and in other cities and states. However, the methods of F.S.I have been questioned as “pseudoscience,” and “excited delirium” has been asked by the excited delirium is not recognized by the World Health Organization, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association. The city of Rochester, NY, rejected the training methods used by F.S.I. In 2015, Ohio State University canceled a Force Science training after the Columbus, Ohio community sent a petition calling their way “disturbing.”


Deputy Chief Art Knight reported that racism existed in the Minneapolis police force and that a percentage of white officers need to be removed. For this claim, he was demoted by the Chief of police. Lucy Gerold, a former police Commander, stated, “ it is challenging to send good officers out to work with the poor quality ones. “

The Minneapolis Police Federation is a union that represents its officers in critical incidents and promotes the police bill of rights. The Minneapolis police department is the states’ most significant police force, and from 2013–2019, only 2.7% of the complaints against officers were disciplined.

The average disciplinary case took 539 days for resolution. Police facing charges were promoted while their cases were pending arbitration.

An example of this was officer Mike Sauro who used a flash grenade that caused a house fire that killed an elderly black couple. The city paid one million dollars as a part of a lawsuit. Mike Sauro was later sued after beating a college student while “moonlighting” in a bar in 1990. He was fired twice by the police chief but overturned by the arbitrators and later promoted to Lieutenant and head of sex crimes unit.

In one of Sauro’s lawsuits, a jury stated that “the Minneapolis police was indifferent to excessive force complaints.” None of the officers involved in the police raid that used the flash-bang grenade was ever charged.

The reluctance by Prosecutors to prosecute is based on the close working relationship with the policing system. The police unions within the state have joined with the city and state government to make it challenging to remove officers even when they are fired multiple times by the police Chief.


The death of Jamal Clark in Minneapolis while in police custody raised the anger of the black community to a new level of distrust. The blacks who witnesses his killing claimed he was handcuffed and shot in the head. But the police account was he had attempted to grab the officer’s gun. His shooting resulted in days of protests after none of the officers were charged with his death.

The Prosecutor, Mike Freeman, claimed there was no evidence to charge the officers, and Freeman concluded the officers feared for their lives and their actions were reasonable given the situation. The case rallied the black community and the whites for the first time regarding an excessive force death. But the anger and distrust were heightened nationally in the killing of Philando Castile. On July 6, 2016, Castile was pulled over as part of a traffic stop by officers Yanez and Kauser in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, a suburb of Saint Paul.

Philando Castile and his girlfriend and his daughter traveling in his car were stopped by Jeronimo Yanez. Yanez was a Saint Anthony police department officer; he stopped Castile reportedly as a robbery suspect. Castile presented his license, told Yanez that he was carrying a weapon but had a conceal and carry permit. Yanez told Castile not to pull out his gun several times and suddenly fired seven shots, with five hitting Castile. Diamond Reynolds, his girlfriend, streamed the shooting.

The Ramsey County prosecutor later charged Yanez charged him with second-degree Manslaughter. John Choi, the prosecutor, viewed the dashcam and made the charge without using the grand jury.

Governor Mark Dayton “called for justice in the case. President Obama called for change and that there is a racial discrepancy between traffic stops and black people.

The trial against Yanez lasted five days, and the deliberation lasted 25 hours, and the jury, majority-white, found him not guilty. One of the jurors stated that Yanez was an honest guy, and the jury accepted his word.

The St.Anthony police fired Yanez. It was reported that following the trial that officer Yanez was a student in the training of killology provided by the police union.

The death of Philando Castile pointed out the disparities in traffic stops for blacks in Minnesota.

Minnesota Law Journal reports that from 10/31/16–06/04/20, Blacks were 53.1% of the traffic stops in Minnesota.

Months after the acquittal of Jeronimo Yanez, a 40-year-old white Australian-American was shot by a Somali American officer Mohamed Noor.

Justine Damond called the police 911 for help after hearing a woman being attacked behind her home. Justine Damond approached the police car, and Noor fired a shot out the passenger window of his partner, Matthew Harrity. Noor claimed that he feared an ambush by Damond.

The Minneapolis community was enraged that police shot a white woman in an upper-middle-class neighborhood.

For the first time, people other than blacks saw excessive force violent action in their community. Minorities joined in protest of the shooting at a press conference, Mayor Betsy Hodges was shouted down with demands for justice. The Mayor fired the police chief Janee Harteau to satisfy the pressure from multiple groups and growing claims from the international press of a rogue police force.

The protesters questioned why Mohamed Noor, a Somali, was charged by Prosecutor Michael Freeman, but no officer was arrested in the Jamal Clark shooting. The media painted Philando Castile as a drug user and Justine Damond as an innocent victim.

The Chief and the B.C.A. [Bureau of Criminal Apprehension] concluded that Noor had no policing reason to fire at Damond. On March 20, 2018, a warrant was issued for third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges, and he was convicted. On April 30, 2019, Noor was convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree Manslaughter following a jury trial.

The conviction further divided the state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis’s overuse of force violence. The Somali African community felt that Noor was sacrificed for the sins of the Minneapolis police.

He was portrayed as having mental issues by the police department and a sub-standardized officer. Blacks felt he was a part of a corrupt organization that even a Black police Chief would not fix. A majority white jury to convicted Noor for killing a white upper-middle-class woman but acquitted a white officer for killing a black man.

Mayor Betsy Hodges was not reelected due to “backlash” from middle-class whites regarding the killing of Justine Damond and that she allowed a group of rogue police to exist in Minneapolis.

With new Chief Medaria Arradondo in 2017, New mayor Jacob Frey moved in with a plan to lock enforcement of policy but increasing punishment for failure to comply with police policy.

Mayor Frey changed the zoning rules and ended single-family homes to remove segregation and expensive housing costs. Mayor Frey believed this would improve the education of the Minority community and increase economics.

Mayor Frey ordered that “warrior style training was ended and the city would not pay for it.” The current head of the Police union Bob Kroll pushed back that officers could still receive the training. Frey was hoping to build a coalition of minorities based on dynamic changes that people could see. And from 2017 to 2020, there was a community belief that Minneapolis needed to change.

But on May 25, 2020, George Floyd was murdered by Derick Chauvin, and his death would change the world of Minnesota and Minneapolis forever.

George Floyd was arrested for passing a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill; his arrest was videotaped by the officers’ bodycams and notably by Darnella Fraizer on her phone. Initially, the police records claimed his death that Floyd had died of drug-related complications or an overdose.

But The video of Darnella Fraizer refuted the original statement by the Minneapolis police,” Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction.”The coverage of the murder was worldwide from Syria to London; there was outrage and protests. The Covid Pandemic did not deter U.S. reaction across the country in cities as large as Los Angeles or as small as Fargo, North Dakota. In communities where blacks were less than 10% of the population, the chant “Black Lives Matter” could be heard.

In America, multi-racial groups of people joined in the protest, and the nation’s history of systemic racism and the excessive force by law enforcement was now a national question.

The Presidential race was also centered on the murder of George Floyd and Minneapolis’s reaction to days of protests and rage over his death. The calls to “de-fund the police” were first heard in Minnesota, and Mayor Frey, who supported structural changes in the police, would not de-fund the police. He faced intense push-back and was yelled at “shame shame “ by people at a rally for George Floyd.

The political races in several states used this concept of de funding police to determine the outcome of races. In Minneapolis, the funding of the police force will have a portion redirected to support mental services, and in “less Lethal,” training will be enacted. But the question of arbitration is bound by state policy.The exposure of the policing failure in Minneapolis of racism and bias and the misuse of deadly force was a referendum on the problem in America. The city of Minneapolis removed the “warrior method “ of training the officers. The police union head Bob Kroll who pushed the training, was forced to retire. Before the trial of Derek Chauvin, the city paid the family of George Floyd $27 million. This amount surpassed the $ 20 million to the family of Justine Damond.

On April 20, 2021, Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder on all counts and is facing sentencing in June 2021. During his trial in the suburb of Minneapolis Brooklyn Center, a twenty-year-old black man was shot by police. Daunte Wrights death for a traffic stop for a warrant when he attempted to drive away. The officer called to use her Tazor but shot Wright with her Glock 9 pistol.

Officer Kimberly Potter was arrested and charged with second-degree Manslaughter. The community exploded with protests, the state police used flash-bang grenades and tear gas to move the protestors. In America, the spotlight was once more on the excessive policing of black people and death by police in Minnesota. The community of Brooklyn Center has one of the highest black populations at 25% compared to Minneapolis with 19%. Between 2013 and 2021, Brooklyn Center police killed four people, three blacks and one white man.

The death of Daunte Wright once more revealed the nature of policing within Minnesota; following the death of Wright, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flannagan stated, “ Minnesota may not be a safe place to be black.”

The conviction of Derek Chauvin gave the nation a chance to breathe compared to the fear of massive civil disorder that occurred after the death of George Floyd. The Governor of Minnesota, Tim Waltz, called for the community to come together and work for change in policing. President Joe Biden ordered the Department of Justice Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the practices of Minnesota policing.

Minnesota has had a “consent decree” in the past in 2015, which found severe mishandling of communications, community relations, and inconsistent coaching of its officers. Then Minneapolis police Chief Harteau believed that the department was transparent and made needed changes, but in 2015 of 177 use of force complaints, only 5% charged officers with a crime. Of the 951 use of force cases, blacks represented 63.4% of those involved. The Chief was later fired, and Minneapolis continued to have policing issues leading to the death of George Floyd.

In 2021 the consent decree ordered for Minneapolis reported that there would be changes; it will have the Commissioner of Human Rights of Minnesota use a court order by the state. Mayor Jacob Frey and current police Chief Medaria Arradondo agree that this is needed for the city, and they will support the consent decree. Governor Waltz states” that if a pattern of systemic racism exists, the state will have legal grounds to root out officers and practices.” The state of Minnesota and the Twin Cities is caught in a whirlpool of policing, systemic racism, and indifference.

It is believed that the consent decree will fix the policing issues in Minnesota. But what consent decree cannot specify is the mindset of a warrior-centered policing system. The consent decree will not allow any officer to be removed by civilian review groups and still will enable arbitrators to reverse the Chief’s firings. The Hennepin County Prosecutor since 2015 has made recommendations that all police-involved shooting cases will no longer use the Grand Jury.

There have been 200 deaths by police officers in twenty years in Minneapolis; blacks accounted for 26% of the deaths but are only 7% of the state’s population. Minnesota, Minneapolis, and America depend on the “consent decree,” but the root cause is that Minneapolis cannot fully discipline officers. These officers threaten the black, Latino, and minority communities and make it unsafe if you are not white.