Video: The Minneapolis Police Department Is a Criminal Organization

Big Joel is one of my “comfort” Youtubers. Most of his stuff is what I would call cultural criticism and/or commentary. If you want a deep dive into Shrek or The Lorax, he’s your guy, and while he does do a fair amount of political commentary, he tends to approach the people or media he’s looking at from that same cultural perspective. Probably my favorite example of this is his video deconstructing another Youtuber’s attempt at a “takedown” as a cultural work. Today, however, he put out a different sort of video, and I think it’s worth sharing. It’s a simple premise – he goes through the DOJ report on the federal investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, that was conducted following the murder of George Floyd, and discusses the clear evidence of systemic abuse and criminality. It’s a bit rough to listen to, but I think this video is worth your time, for a couple reasons. The first is that it’s important to understand just how widespread and systemic this kind of abusive behavior is. It’s not just the “bad apples” who harass, rob, assault, injure, maim, and kill people, it’s also their fellow cops who cover for them, and supervisors who lie on reports for them. As the video lays out pretty clearly, these are people who revel in abusing their power and using violence against powerless people for no apparent reason other than their own sadistic pleasure.

The second reason, as I’ll discuss after the video, is that I do not think this is a widespread systemic problem within the Minneapolis Police Department, but rather within US policing as a whole. You should view this report as a representative sample of the profession.

So, why do I feel comfortable saying that Minneapolis is representative of a nationwide problem?

Well, regular readers will know that I’ve touched on this issue in the past. Cops in Atlanta make a regular appearance here, for their murderous campaign to force through a massive training facility. Austin PD decided to openly defy a law requiring more civilian oversight. A black kid in Mississippi called the cops for help, and they shot him. The DOJ investigation in to the Ferguson PD after the killing of Michael Brown found a similar pattern of widespread abuse of power, targeting of minorities, and cops lying to cover for each other. Across the US, cops steal more from people than burglars do, and the list goes on.

People defending the police might respond by saying that yes, they brutalize people, and guarantee that most of our rights only exist on paper, but we need them anyway, because the main thing they do is solve crime. Well, no. Not really.

(Reuters) – A new report adds to a growing line of research showing that police departments don’t solve serious or violent crimes with any regularity, and in fact, spend very little time on crime control, in contrast to popular narratives.

The report was published Oct. 25 by advocacy group Catalyst California and the ACLU of Southern California. It relies on county budgets’ numbers and new policing data provided under the state’s Racial and Identity Profiling Act, which took effect in 2019.

The law requires police to report demographic and other basic information about their work, including the duration of a stop and what actions were taken, like ordering someone out of a car.

Records provided by the sheriff’s departments in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and Riverside showed the same longstanding pattern of racial disparities in police stops throughout the country for decades. Black people in San Diego were more than twice as likely than white residents to be stopped by sheriff’s deputies, for example.

More notably, researchers analyzed the data to show how officers spend their time, and the patterns that emerge tell a striking story about how policing actually works. Those results, too, comport with existing research showing that U.S. police spend much of their time conducting racially biased stops and searches of minority drivers, often without reasonable suspicion, rather than “fighting crime.”

Overall, sheriff patrol officers spend significantly more time on officer-initiated stops – “proactive policing” in law enforcement parlance – than they do responding to community members’ calls for help, according to the report. Research has shown that the practice is a fundamentally ineffective public safety strategy, the report pointed out.

In 2019, 88% of the time L.A. County sheriff’s officers spent on stops was for officer-initiated stops rather than in response to calls. The overwhelming majority of that time – 79% – was spent on traffic violations. By contrast, just 11% of those hours was spent on stops based on reasonable suspicion of a crime.

In Riverside, about 83% of deputies’ time spent on officer-initiated stops went toward traffic violations, and just 7% on stops based on reasonable suspicion.

Moreover, most of the stops are pointless, other than inconveniencing citizens, or worse – “a routine practice of pretextual stops,” researchers wrote. Roughly three out of every four hours that Sacramento sheriff’s officers spent investigating traffic violations were for stops that ended in warnings, or no action, for example.

Researchers calculated that more of the departments’ budgets go toward fruitless traffic stops than responses to service calls — essentially wasting millions of public dollars.

Chauncee Smith, a senior manager at Catalyst California, told me they wanted to test the dominant media and political narrative that police agencies use public funds to keep communities safe.

“We found there is a significant inconsistency between their practices” and what the public might think police do, Smith said. “It begs the question of why we keep doubling down on public safety strategies that have been proven time and time again to fail.”

The departments were mostly non-responsive to my questions.

Yeah, I bet.

The reality is that police do far more harm than good, and the vast majority of things they do either need to stop happening altogether, or need to be done by healthcare professionals and social workers. Traffic enforcement, to the degree that it’s needed can be done by automated camera, or at the very least by people who aren’t armed, and are under no obligation to chase down a fleeing “suspect”.

Police in the United States do not serve the communities in which they work. The good they happen to do is largely incidental, due to the fact that they’re the default first responder to everything. They’d have to be really dedicated to never do any good. No, their primary purpose is maintaining social order. That’s why rich people are happy to fund a place like Atlanta’s Cop City, where police will train in urban warfare, the better to control rowdy peasants. That’s why nothing is being done about the staggering amount of theft they commit, too – the victims are poor people, and in the eyes of the ruling class, poor people deserve their poverty, and have no real right to property or anything else.

I’m perfectly willing to accept that society needs first responders, including some trained in the use of arms. What we do not need, is anything resembling what policing has been throughout its history in the United States. The Minneapolis Police Department is a criminal organization, and it is not alone.


  1. Alan G. Humphrey says

    “Traffic safety” is a euphemism to hide its real purpose: revenue generation. I view the whole US policing and court system as a throwback to what humans evolved to acquire sustenance. The police departments are hunters, and the courts gather. When this system is honed for decades to treat drivers as a source of income, then it is not surprising to find it also treats them no better than neolithic hunter gatherers would treat prey or berries. Consider how a cruiser travels through a herd of cars on a highway or uses the camouflage of buildings, trees, and billboards looking for vulnerable drivers, or how the courts make it impossible to negotiate its systems without paying some fees in the process. This modern version has a difference though, once the prey has been caught and fees winnowed, they are released to be preyed upon again. The other part of this system, where jails are involved, gets closer to how domesticated animals are treated, and I don’t mean cats and dogs…

  2. says

    As I’ve noted before…

    “All Cops Are Bastards” may be a bit much. But hopefully, we can all agree that those cops who do commit crimes against the people they’re allegedly “protect”ing and “service”ing are bastards, right? And, likewise, I hope we can all agree that those cops who just sit on their asses while the bastard cops are terrorizing the populace, doing nothing to try to get in the bastards’ way… they are bastards, too, right? And finally, I hope we can all agree that the people in charge of police departments, who don’t do anything about the bastards they’re in charge of, and in all too many cases actively shield the bastards from consequences of their bastardy, are bastards.

    What percentage of police fall into at least one of the three categories listed above: Active bastard, passive bastard, and enabling bastard?

  3. sonofrojblake says

    I mean this semi-seriously: could we, just once, please have a posting about a policing organisation that is NOT functionally indistinguishable from an organised crime group? I mean… there are something like 370 million people in the USA, surely there’s ONE police department somewhere that isn’t effectively just a particularly powerful and untouchable armed gang?

  4. says

    @sonofrojblake – The problem is that police training seems to follow national trends, and the same concepts and programs pop up all over the place. Likewise, “copaganda” is everywhere, helping to give cops the benefit of the doubt, and to freak them out about the dangers they supposedly face.

    I think it’s likely that a lot of small town cops are decent people trying to do right, and as Beau of the Fifth Column has pointed out, in small towns, cops may have less that they can get away with, before meeting extrajudicial “accountability”.

    But there’s that saying “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Police are given a staggering amount of power in our society, and they are constantly told, by themselves, each other, and culture in general, that they are at war with a subhuman and evil foe that looks exactly like the general public (but usually the non-white portion), so just as a good cop has to swim against the current of their department, a good department has to swim against the current of national police culture, and against the corrupting influence of unaccountable power.

    It’s a bit like saying “surely there’s ONE good billionaire!”. I think you can make an argument that Dolly Parton is the only good billionaire, in that she easily could be one, but she has chosen (while still being obscenely rich) to spend a vast amount of money uplifting other people. So, the only good billionaire is one who isn’t.

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