Could what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, happen in Minnesota? That’s one of the questions a panel will discuss today while examining the disparities between how whites and people of color are treated by police officers.
Hard data support what more and more people are seeing thanks to cell phone cameras – there are deep disparities in how whites and people of color are treated by police officers.
The American Civil Liberties Union Minnesota (ACLU-MN) recently released a report on how different the arrest rates are between whites and people of color. Read the report here.
The report found Black people in Minneapolis are 8.7 times more likely than white people to be arrested for low-level offenses, such as trespassing, disorderly conduct, consuming in public, and lurking. Native Americans have it no better. They are 8.6 times more likely to be arrested for low-level offenses than white people.
The conference continues the discussion that report started with an analysis of the Ferguson events by Professor Mark Kappelhoff, who worked on the government’s report while working at the Department of Justice. The first panel discussion focuses on whether the events of Ferguson could happen here. The second panel considers what steps should be taken in the Twin Cities to bring about change.
The conference at the University of Minnesota Law School was sold out but was livestreamed here on The UpTake.
Partial list of panel members
(Descriptions provided by the ACLU-MN)
Keynote speaker: Mark Kappelhoff
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Mark Kappelhoff is a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. In this position, he oversees the Division’s enforcement efforts related to policing practices, human trafficking, and hate crimes. He has been supervising the Division’s investigations in Ferguson and Baltimore.
Panel Discussion: Could Ferguson Happen Here?
Panelist: Mary Moriarty
Mary Moriarty became Hennepin County’s first female chief public defender in 2014. She decided to be a public defender because, she says, she wanted to defend people’s rights and give them the voice that often can be drowned out in the complex criminal justice system.
Panelist: Nekima Levy-Pounds
Nekima Levy-Pounds is an award-winning professor of law, civil rights attorney, and a nationally recognized expert on a range of civil rights and social justice issues at the intersections of race, public policy, economic justice, public education, juvenile justice, and the criminal justice system. She is currently the President of the Minneapolis NAACP, and co-chair for the Coalition for Critical Change.
Panelist: Michael O. Freeman
Michael Freeman is the elected Hennepin County Attorney and has served as such since 2001. He developed several innovative programs including the Domestic Abuse Service Center, the Gun Buy Back and child protection programs. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School and Augsburg College.
Panel Discussion: Where Do We Go From Here?
ACLU-MN panel discussion on police and race. What are the next steps?
Panelist: Peter Bell
Peter Bell has served on the board of directors for numerous local and national social and civic organizations, including Citizens League, Center of the American Experiment, and CommonBond. He was also appointed to the board of regents for the University of Minnesota. Peter also serves on the board of TCF Financial.
Panelist: Sarah Walker
Sarah Walker spent five years as the Chief Operating Officer at 180 Degrees, Inc. During her time at 180 Degrees, Inc. she founded the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition. She brings extensive research experience to issues of politics, inequality, criminal justice reform and the role of philanthropic organizations in setting interest group agendas.
Moderator: John Gordon
John has been trying lawsuits and arguing appeals in state and federal courts in Minnesota and across the U.S. for more than 40 years. His focus is on dispute resolution, in particular mediation of complex disputes and complex civil litigation. John has tried to conclusion over 100 jury cases, and his experience includes a wide variety of other forums. He has argued cases in the Minnesota Supreme Court, the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. He has regularly been named a “Super Lawyer,” and is listed in The Best Lawyers in America.
Panelist: Tracie Keesee
Tracie L. Keesee, PhD, is a Denver native and a retired 25 year veteran of the Denver Police Department. She is also the project director of the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, a Department of Justice project led by the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College and designed to improve relationships and increase trust between minority communities and the criminal justice system.
Panelist: Chief Paul Schnell
Paul Schnell was sworn in as Maplewood’s police chief in July 2013. Prior to joining the Maplewood Police Department, he served as Chief of Police for the City of Hastings, Minnesota. He served with St Paul Police Department for 12 years. In 2003, Paul was named the St. Paul Police Department Officer of the Year. Paul serves as an elected director on the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association. He is active in a variety of community and non-profit organizations.