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Continued: As Minneapolis police chief begins official dialogue over tensions, community groups have competing reactions

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY and RANDY FURST , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Last update: August 7, 2013 - 11:56 PM

“This city has paid millions of dollars in police incidents rather than having the political will to change the culture of the department,” he said. “How long will we continue to pay lawsuits and then allow those folks to continue their jobs?”

Audit goals missed?

Edwards and Clyde Bellecourt, a leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM), said they plan to send a letter to the Justice Department asking for an audit to see if the department complied with a memorandum of understanding signed in 2003 that set up a Police Community Relations Council.

That council continued for five years between 2004 and 2008. Bellecourt and Edwards were among the co-chairs, and Edwards said a majority of the community members who served on that committee now favor an audit.

“We feel that the agreement made under color of law has been violated,” said Edwards. “They have not done enough recruitment, promotions or hiring of African-Americans and others of color.” He said the department also never met the criteria for being “racially biased-free,” as evidenced by the Green Bay and Apple Valley incidents. He said the group also may ask that the department be put under Justice Department trusteeship.

After being told he could not attend the meeting with Harteau, Edwards told reporters he believes he’s been put on “an enemy’s list” within the department.

He said he believed one reason he was kept out was the complaint he and eight other blacks filed with the department over an alleged beating and racial slurs by officers at the Elks Lodge in north Minneapolis in April 2012. Bellecourt said the department, then led by former Police Chief Tim Dolan, did nothing to correct the problem of police brutality.

Harteau replaced Dolan in November.

“Nothing has really changed,” Bellecourt said. “We’re back to day one.”

Bellacourt said Harteau is “a good person, but I think she is dealing with a group of police officers who refuse to cross the blue line — if they witness something that is criminal or illegal, they are not going to report it.”

‘A little more hope’

Bill Means, an AIM leader invited to the meeting with Harteau, said he was open to the idea of an audit. “I see the commitment of the chief,” he added. Means was also a co-chair of the Police Community Relations Council.

Arnetta Phillips, director of Shiloh Temple’s community outreach, who was one of Harteau’s invitees, said the meeting “gave me a little more hope. This is not going to be brushed aside. … Change happens, but it happens gradually.” “The dialogue was very transparent and candid, and we left this meeting with the greatest hope,” said Bishop Richard Howell of Shiloh Temple.

John Delmonico, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, the police union, also attended the meeting with Harteau.

“If there are things we can do differently or things we’re doing right, let’s talk about doing them,” Delmonico said. 612-217-1747 • 612-673-4224

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