Data sheds light on racial disparities in arrests in Minneapolis

The chair of the Minneapolis Police Conduct Oversight Commission says she plans to propose a vote to decriminalize some nuisance crimes in the city.

Abigail Cerra says based on newly obtained data which she believes shows racial disparities in misdemeanor arrests and citations, she will propose a vote during the commission’s November 9 meeting.

In a city that is 19 percent black, data provided to the commission by the Minneapolis Police Department shows 85.2 percent of loitering arrests and citations are among black residents.

Sixty-one percent of people arrested or cited for public urination were black, while 22 percent were white. Public consumption and disorderly conduct had very similar figures.

Cerra said being jailed or convicted of such nuisance crimes is a gateway into a problematic court system. She believes by de-criminalizing these minor offenses, offenders could avoid entry into the criminal justice system.

She would like to propose a motion to decriminalize loitering and public urination, and possibly other nuisance crimes. If approved by the commission, the motion would go to the city council to consider for a vote.