MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says the Minneapolis Police Department’s arrest rates for low-level, nonviolent offenses shows dramatic racial disparities.

The ACLU report, which uses the police department’s own data, covers white and African American arrest rates for four low-level nonviolent offenses, including marijuana possession, disorderly conduct, vagrancy and juvenile curfew violations/loitering.

The report reveals that between 2004 and 2012, an African American individual is, on average, 11.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white individual, 16.39 times more likely to be arrested for curfew/loitering, 8.86 times more likely to be arrested for disorderly conduct and 7.54 times more likely to be arrested for vagrancy.

“The Department is not meeting its Constitutional duty to protect and serve everyone equally and fairly,” said Emma Andersson staff attorney for the ACLU. “An arrest – even without a conviction – makes it harder for anyone to get a job and rent an apartment, and it can significantly limit educational opportunities.”

The ACLU-MN has sent a letter to Mayor Betsy Hodges and Police Chief Janee Harteau, urging them to investigate the findings.

“The Minneapolis Police Department has the ability to change its policing practices for enforcing these non-violent low-level arrests,” said Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN. “These arrests are largely subjective and therefore prone to the abusive exercise of officer discretion. The Mayor and Police Chief need to reassess its current arrest practices and take into account these alarming disparities when working on a plan for the Department’s future.”

Harteau has since responded and posted a statement to Youtube, saying she “appreciates the ACLU’s report and will be looking at analyzing the information in an in-depth manner.” Watch the entire statement here.

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