Minneapolis officials agreed to ban the use of chokeholds Friday after the killing of George Floyd, whose death in police custody has sparked outrage and protests around the world against anti-Black racism and police brutality.
The city council approved the ban as part of a court stipulation for a temporary restraining order with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which filed a civil rights charge against the Minneapolis Police Department this week in connection with Floyd's death. The agreement also requires officers to immediately report and intervene if they observe another officer using a chokehold or neck restraint.
"This is a moment in time where we can totally change the way our police department operates," Mayor Jacob Frey said during the council meeting. "Now we can finally get this right, and so we’ve been propelled by this extraordinary energy and unprecedented recognition that we have to be on the precipice of change and that there are reforms that are generations past due."
Floyd, 46, was killed on May 25 after being detained by four Minneapolis police officers who were responding to a call about a person using a counterfeit $20 bill. One officer, whose actions were captured in a disturbing video, pinned him to the ground and held him in a knee chokehold for more than eight minutes as Floyd cried that he couldn't breathe.
The four officers have since been arrested and are facing charges.
On Tuesday, the state's Department of Human Rights filed a discrimination charge against the city, initiating an investigation into the police department's policies and practices over the past 10 years to determine if it has engaged in systemic discriminatory practices toward people of color.
“George Floyd should be alive,” Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said in a statement announcing the investigation. “Community leaders have been asking for structural change for decades. They have fought for this and it is essential that we acknowledge the work and commitment of those who have paved the path to make today’s announcement possible.”
Under the agreement approved by the council, the city will also require that any use of crowd control weapons, such as tear gas and rubber bullets, during protests and demonstrations be authorized by the police chief rather than a supervisor.
In addition, the stipulation and order, which still have to be approved by a judge, includes a provision requiring the city to audit body camera footage to identify discriminatory practices in policing. Right now, footage is only reviewed when there is a complaint, Lucero said.
"This is just a start. There is a lot more work to do here," Lucero told the council, "and that work must and will be done with deep community engagement."
City officials said the agreement and the state's investigation will allow the city to enact policing reforms that have previously been thwarted due to provisions in the police union contract and state law.
"I do trust this chief and I believe that he is primed to lead this work in this city and set an example for how police reform can look for the rest of the country," Frey said.
In New York, the city council is expected to vote on a measure to criminalize the use of chokeholds by the New York Police Department later this month.
“George Floyd died in Minneapolis the same way Eric Garner died in New York, pleading that he could not breathe," New York Rep. Gregory W. Meeks said in a statement about the council bill. "Restricting airflow by way of chokehold is undeniably the use of deadly force, and it is past due that the use of that deadly force comes with real consequences."