frey lied, amir died: connecting community and police violence

Last week, police officers shot and killed another Black man, 22-year-old Amir Locke, in the city that just two years ago was torched by the trauma of George Floyd’s murder, and just months ago failed to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety. Locke had been sleeping on his cousin’s couch, shot to death within nine seconds of police entering the apartment during a no-knock SWAT raid. The killing happened in the midst of a tragic week of loss–with several teenagers shot and killed by other teenagers. The horrific layering of all this death has prompted a new wave of trauma, rage, and demands to transform policing in Minneapolis. But it’s also started to build a bridge between conversations and movements to end police killings and community violence. Rather than treating the two as separate issues, activists and some city leaders are drawing deeply sociological connections about how structural racism produces both kinds of violence and what it will take to address these staggering losses.

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legal estrangement and police reform in minneapolis

The following is a co-authored post by Michelle Phelps, Amber Joy Powell, and Christopher Robertson.

Since the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, in 2014, the topic of police violence and police reform has been at the forefront of the debate about the future of criminal justice in the U.S. Questions about policing have peppered the recent Democratic debates and have featured prominently in some of their policy plans. This week, several candidates met with a group of men and women who were formerly incarcerated to discuss criminal justice reform.

Yet often missing in the public conversation about police reform are the voices of community members most heavily impacted. While some of these residents get involved in community organizing, through #BlackLivesMatter chapters and other groups, many never have their opinions on police reform heard.

During 2017-2019, our research team traced the process of police reform through the eyes of the local police (Minneapolis Police Department), professionals and activists involved in reform, and residents in North Minneapolis, the residential community in our city most impacted by high rates of poverty, racial segregation, street crime, and police contact.

In this post, we provide some preliminary results from our interviews with residents in North Minneapolis. We conducted over 120 interviews, collecting survey responses about attitudes toward the police and in-depth qualitative accounts of their experiences with police and attitudes about police, policing advocacy groups, and police reform.

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