MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Minnesota Department of Human Rights investigation has determined that the Brooklyn Center Police Department and Michaels Stores, Inc. violated the state’s civil rights law for racial discrimination in a 2019 incident involving the profiling of a 16-year-old Black boy and police’s excessive use of force.

According to the DHR, the then 16-year-old was applying for a job at the Michaels at Shingle Creek Crossing in March of 2019 when a white manager with a history of racially profiling Black customers called the police on him.

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She said a Black kid with dreadlocks was going through the store, “throwing stuff up in the air, knocking stuff off shelves, just being 21,” but video surveillance shows he was not causing a disturbance of any kind, and he behaved like a “typical customer.”

The memorandum goes on to say that the manager asked him to leave, and he did so voluntarily, but came back later because he believed he was kicked out because of his race. She then called the police again, falsely reporting that he was “hostile” and was starting to “touch” her employees.

When three white Brooklyn Center officers arrived at the scene, they found the boy, frightened. He put his arms up in the air but officers threw him to the ground and put a knee on his back; the boy repeatedly pleaded “I want to live” and “don’t kill me,” the memorandum says.

The investigation also found that the body-camera footage contradicted the reports given by the officers. They had originally claimed he was trying to run away.

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“It’s unimaginable how the scariest day of my life started with applying for a job at Michaels. Police were called because of my skin color and they abused me to the point I thought I was going to die. No human should fear the police when we are taught that they are protectors. There should be some changes so this never happens again,” said the then 16-year-old.

The boy was charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing, but those charges were dismissed.

“The facts of this case are both shocking and unsurprising. There was no reason for Michaels to call the police. And no Black child should ever have to plead for their life from police,” said DHR Commissioner Rebecca Lucero.

The DHR says it will seek “structural change” through a settlement agreement with the Brooklyn Center Police Department and Michaels, as well as monetary relief for the then 16-year-old.

“We take any claim of discrimination very seriously and work every day to make Michaels as inclusive and diverse as possible,” said a Michaels spokesperson. “In this instance, we disagree with the findings based on the facts of the incident and plan to appeal the decision.”

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