Activists say Minneapolis police asked 13-year-old boy for DNA

A man stands at a microphone
Activist AJ Flowers, center, speaks at a news conference at New Beginnings Church in Minneapolis on Friday, May 13.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Civil rights leaders want Minneapolis police to stop taking DNA samples from juveniles.

The Unity Community Mediation Team, a group that works with the Minneapolis Police Department to address citizen concerns, says police detained a 13-year-old boy earlier this month and asked him to give a DNA sample voluntarily.

Activist AJ Flowers says police did not get a warrant, nor did they ask the child's parents.

"It's frustrating when you tell a young person that their job is to comply and their job is to listen to the officer at that time, but yet this officer takes advantage of that young person,” Flowers said.

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The MPD says officers were investigating a report of gunshots at Phelps Park. Activists say the teen is too young to consent to such a request.

In an email to the group, Deputy Chief Kathy Waite said there's nothing in the MPD policy manual that addresses juvenile DNA, and the department needs to "thoroughly research the subject" before implementing a policy.

Waite also says state law does not prohibit police from asking juveniles to give voluntary DNA samples.

MPD spokesperson Howie Padilla says the department is researching how other agencies handle seeking juvenile DNA.

"We appreciate the concerns they brought forward. We all need to be aware of how we're working with our youth, with our young people. And so once we heard about it, absolutely we're going to be looking into it,” Padilla said.