Minnesota's search for a better policing system

A flag in seen in front of a building guarded by National Guard members.
Members of the National Guards and other Law enforcement officers stand guard outside the Hennepin County Government Center as the verdict is announced in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis on April 20, 2021.
Chandan Khanna | AFP via Getty Images

Advocates for police reform are celebrating former police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder conviction in George Floyd’s killing last May. And a U.S. Justice Department investigation into Minneapolis policing announced Wednesday also gives them hope. 

But they say it’s not enough to change a system that has an outsized, negative impact on Black Americans.

How are Black Minnesotans feeling after Chauvin was found guilty on three counts of murder and manslaughter? What needs to change to ensure the safety of Black Minnesotans at traffic stops and other police encounters? What steps do we need to take next for meaningful police reform?

“We have had to fight 10 times as hard to get a drop of justice squeezed out of this system,” Justin Terrell, executive director of the Minnesota Justice Research Center, told MPR News host Angela Davis of the work Black Minnesotans have done toward reform. 

“The criminal legal system is flawed, it is broken, it is working the way it was designed to work when you consider its roots in white supremacy,” Terrell said. “That gives me no joy. I am not happy. I am very much clear that we have a lot of work to do in the state of Minnesota.”

President and CEO of Urban League Twin Cities Steven Belton agreed there is more to be done.

“Justice is not an outcome; it’s a process. We had an outcome yesterday, which is part of the process, but it continues,” Belton said.

Salma Hussein, an assistant principal at Central High School in St. Paul, also weighed in about how young people are reacting to the guilty verdicts. 

“Our students are asking for justice, they’re asking for change,” she said. “Our students really want an opportunity to be seen, for their humanity to be seen, and to be treated as dignified human beings.”

Guests:

  • Steven Belton is president and CEO of Urban League Twin Cities, which has been facilitating community conversations about police reform.

  • Justin Terrell is executive director of the Minnesota Justice Research Center, a nonprofit organization that works for racial equity and criminal justice reform through research, education and advocacy. Prior to that he was the executive director of the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage.

  • Salma Hussein is an assistant principal at Central High School in St. Paul.

Use the audio player above to listen to the program.

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