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ACLU study examines racial disparities in Minneapolis' criminal justice system

In recent years and months, concerns about racial profiling and excessive force against black Americans have remained in the national spotlight. As cities like Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland erupted into violent protests and demonstrations; other cities have been forced to review their own records and practices with regard to disparities in police activities involving minority populations and specifically black residents.

Minneapolis is among those cities in the U.S. to receive criticism related to arrest statistics. According to a recent study conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union, a black resident in Minneapolis are nearly nine times more likely to be arrested for a low-level crime than a white city resident.

The disparity in arrest rates for low-level or petty crimes is especially prominent considering that only roughly 19 percent of Minneapolis residents are black as compared to 64 percent being white. In response to the ALCU study’s findings, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau was quick to admit that the figures are "startling".

Echoing Harteau's sentiments are Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Hennepin County Court Judge Kevin Burke who have both raised concerns about the apparent gaps in how the city’s criminal justice system treats black residents.

Any arrest, regardless how supposedly petty the crime, can have significant and negative consequences. In addition to a criminal record, an individual is likely to be forced to pay fines and may even spend time in jail. An arrest may also result in an individual missing work and losing a job which can have significant financial repercussions and adversely impact both an individual and his or her family in numerous ways.

Source: ACLU.org, "PICKING UP THE PIECES: A Minneapolis Case Study," May 29, 2015

BuzzFeed, "ACLU: Minorities In Minneapolis Nearly Nine Times More Likely To Be Arrested For Petty Crimes," Stephanie McNeal, May 28, 2015

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