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Has Minneapolis made any progress towards police reform? Memphis situation brings up questions

Volunteers were out walking the streets all day on Friday, and they plan to be out Friday night as well to talk with people in the community.

MINNEAPOLIS — The deadly arrest of Tyre Nichols in Memphis is hard to see for so many in Minneapolis.

The city has been at the center of the police reform debate ever since George Floyd's murder two-and-a-half years ago pushed the movement over the edge.

With this latest act of police violence, some in the community may be wondering whether any progress has been made in police reform both in Minneapolis and nationwide.

Minnesota State Representative Cedrick Frazier says change is often one step forward and two steps back.

“My first thought was, 'Not again,'” Frazier says.

“You know, we’ve seen some changes. We’ve seen some new policies put in place to address some issues and maybe had more accountability, but the fact of the mater is these situations keep happening.” 

And when they happen, he says it's easy to feel a sense of defeat, but it's important to remember some things have changed.

Some changes that come to his mind include a handful of new policies and laws that have been passed at the Minnesota State Capitol, the restructuring of the Minneapolis Police Department and the department’s new police chief.

"I've heard him speak to the trauma that's been caused to the community and the desire to reconcile and try to build some trust in the community. I think that's important,” Frazier says.

MPD Chief Brian O'Hara was quick to respond to the situation in Memphis.

He released this statement Friday morning:

“My heart breaks for the unimaginable loss that the family of Tyre Nichols has suffered. No statement, no criminal charge, no verdict will ever heal the pain Mr. Nichols’s family is feeling. I fully support Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis and her quick and decisive actions to terminate the officers involved in this terrible incident. While I honor and commend the men and women in uniform who serve all people every day with respect, I condemn any criminal behavior by police. The privilege to protect with courage and serve with compassion is sacred. Violent abuses of authority, such as displayed in this incident, have absolutely no place in our profession.”

Al Flowers with Minnesota Safe Streets says the community now has a stronger voice when it comes to managing their police department.

He says the Minneapolis Police Community Relations Council is now meeting once a month and Flowers feels the police department is taking the community's feedback seriously.

"We gotta show an example here in Minnesota that we are working with our police department,” Flowers says.

“Is it where we want it to be? No. That's why it's a work in progress."

Flowers says he is horrified by what happened in Memphis, but he's also worried that it could distract from the progress that is being made here in Minnesota and the work that still needs to be done.

"I gotta keep telling our community, 'No, we've got to move forward.' You gotta lead our people in the right way and the right way is to continue to try and build this relationship,” Flowers says.

Community leaders in Minneapolis held a conference call Friday morning to talk about the situation in Memphis and how the community here in the Twin Cities might react.

Volunteers were out walking the streets all day on Friday, and they plan to be out Friday night as well to talk with people in the community and give them a space to share their grief and frustration.

Late Friday afternoon, the Minneapolis Office of Community Safety announced it has plans in place if any civil unrest were to take place in the city this weekend, adding that there are no signs that might happen at this time.

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