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Garland Plans New Probe of Minneapolis PD After Accusing Police of ‘Pockets of Racism’

'We have to keep hearing those words. We must not turn away. We can’t turn away...'

(Headline USA) Attorney General Merrick Garland is expected to announce that the Justice Department is opening a sweeping investigation into policing practices in Minneapolis a day after a former officer was convicted in the killing of George Floyd.

“The jury in the state trial of Derek Chauvin has fulfilled its civic duty and rendered a verdict convicting him on all counts,” Garland said in a statement Tuesday.

“While the state’s prosecution was successful, I know that nothing can fill the void that the loved ones of George Floyd have felt since his death,” he continued. “The Justice Department has previously announced a federal civil rights investigation into the death of George Floyd. This investigation is ongoing.”

In addition to the ongoing probe over whether Chauvin and the other officers involved in Floyd’s death violated his civil rights, the investigation being announced Wednesday is known as a “pattern or practice.”

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It will be a more sweeping probe of the entire department and may result in major changes to policing there, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

The investigation will examine practices used by police, including the use of force, and whether the department engages in discriminatory practices, according to the person.

It will also look into the department’s handling of misconduct allegations among other things, the person said. It’s unclear whether the years under investigation will begin when Floyd died or before.

The decision to announce a sweeping Justice Department investigation comes as President Joe Biden has promised his administration would not rest following the jury’s verdict in the case. In a Tuesday evening speech, he said much more needed to be done.

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“‘I can’t breathe.’ Those were George Floyd’s last words,” Biden said. “We can’t let those words die with him. We have to keep hearing those words. We must not turn away. We can’t turn away.”

The Justice Department had previously considered opening a pattern or practice investigation into the police department soon after Floyd’s death, but then-Attorney General Bill Barr was hesitant to do so at the time, fearing that it could cause further divisions in law enforcement amid widespread protests and civil unrest, three people familiar with the matter told the AP.

Prior to the verdict, Garland—once considered a serious contender for the US Supreme Court—cast considerable doubt on his impartiality by accusing law-enforcement of “pockets of racism” and suggesting a broader presence of ‘systemic’ racism in the justice system.

“Racism is an American problem,” he said in a recent interview with ABC’s Good Morning America.

“I think that—umm, it’s plain to me that there has been and remains discrimination against African Americans and other communities of color, and other ethnic minorities,” he continued. “I think it’s reflected in discrimination in housing and employment and the justice system. … We do not yet have equal justice under law.”

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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