BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. (FOX 9) - A Minnesota Department of Human Rights investigation determined officers with the Brooklyn Center Police Department and Michaels Stores discriminated against a Black 16-year-old when he went to the store to apply for a job in 2019.
MDHR announced Thursday the police department and the craft store chain violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act for racial discrimination in their treatment of the teenager. The human rights department said police officers used unjustified and unreasonable force on the 16-year-old after a store manager racially profiled and called the police on him for being Black.
According to the MDHR’s report, in March 2019, a Black 16-year-old went to the Michaels in Brooklyn Center to apply for a job. As he was filling out the job application, a white store manager approached him and told him to leave if he was not going to buy anything.
He told her he was filling out an application and asked why she was coming up to him when there were other people in the store who were also looking around. She repeated that he needed to leave and threatened to call the police.
The boy left the store voluntarily as the manager was calling 911, saying the teenager was creating a disturbance in the store, knocking stuff off shelves and refusing to leave.
MDHR found the store manager has a history of racially profiling Black customers and made false allegations about the 16-year-old because of his race.
The teenager returned to the store, believing he had been kicked out because he was Black, and the manager and another employee met him at the store entrance and blocked him from coming back inside. After he left the store the second time, she called police again, stating the "tyrant customer" had returned to the store, was hostile and starting to touch her employees, which was not true.
Three white police officers arrived at the shopping center and followed the 16-year-old into a nearby store, where they confronted him and one of the officers immediately grabbed him. The report says the teenager was "surprised and scared" when one of the officers approved him and that he moved back and immediately put his hands up because he did not want the officer to shoot him.
The officers took him to the ground, handcuffed him and arrested him.
Throughout the encounter, the 16-year-old repeatedly pleaded, "I want to live," "I want to grow up," and "Don’t kill me."
He was charged with disorderly conduct, trespassing and obstructing the legal process, but those charges were ultimately dismissed. Police also issued him a trespassing order, prohibiting him from entering the Michaels store for a year.
MDHR said the officers did not follow their own policies and training and instead used unjustified and unreasonable force during their encounter with the 16-year-old. MDHR also found that body-worn camera footage contradicted reports and testimony provided by the police officers.
Next, MDHR will seek structural change through a conciliated settlement with Brooklyn Center police and Michaels Stores as well as monetary relief for the 16-year-old.