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UN Experts on Racial Justice in Policing Visit Minnesota

May 17, 2023

Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement Hears Community Testimony, Demands for Action

On May 2, the Twin Cities welcomed the United Nations Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the context of Law Enforcement (EMLER). EMLER was created after the global outcry over the murder of George Floyd turned the eyes of the nation and the world to Minnesota in the summer of 2020.

The visit was a result of coordinated efforts of community members, activists, and organizations that united to call the Expert Mechanism to Minnesota. In organizing a wealth of responses to the Mechanism's call for input, the Twin Cities community expressed a strong desire to meet with international human rights experts and share their stories, experiences, and expertise concerning systemic racism in law enforcement.

While international standards on police use of force and solitary confinement exist, Minnesota fails to meet these international standards. The resultant accountability gap has contributed to impunity for state-involved killings and prolonged solitary confinement. 

According to Toshira Garaway from Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence (FSFAPV), "George Floyd was the face of hundreds of Black and minority people that have lost their life at the hands of the law enforcement in Minnesota and thousands around the United States. Just as George Floyd was the face of those victims, Derek Chavin was the face of not all, but many police officers serving in our Black and Brown communities."

During the public meeting, community leaders shed light on the lived experiences of Black and Brown communities by sharing their testimonies on police violence and solitary confinement. In the afternoon, the experts meet with government officials and other stakeholders to discuss systemic racism and police violence in Minnesota.

"It was an incredibly powerful space to be in. To sit in solidarity with numerous Black led civil society organizations and organizers in the twin cities who have been doing this kind of work for years really spoke volumes," said Richnetta Parker, who helped support the visit .

This was an unprecedented opportunity for the Twin Cities community to address the systemic state-sanctioned violence against Black and Brown communities in Minnesota. Time and time again, Minnesota's elected leaders have failed to make meaningful change in the state's law enforcement practices and accountability mechanisms. In amplifying the voices of those most impacted by police violence, EMLER's visit empowers the Twin Cities community to be at the center of calls for just solutions.

"The fact that the Expert Mechanism is here is important because it shows the United States, and the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments, that the world is watching," said The Advocates' Katia Galambos, who helped support the visit.

The Minnesota visit was organized by Families Supporting Families Against Police ViolenceAtlas of BlacknessUrban League Twin Cities, University of Minnesota Law School Human Rights CenterCenter for Victims of Torture, Minnesota Justice Research CenterUN Antiracism Coalition, and The Advocates for Human Rights.

Photo Credit: AHR Staff