Human rights

US government opens civil rights investigation against police in suburban New York

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 (Reuters) – The Justice Department has launched a civil rights investigation into police practices in another city in the United States, investigating possible systemic abuses in the New York suburb of Mount Vernon after receiving reports accusing officers of using excessive force and carrying out illegal activities. searches, officials said on Friday.

The department’s civil rights division since President Joe Biden took office in January has also launched investigations into police practices in Minneapolis, Phoenix and Louisville, Kentucky, following protests in many U.S. cities over the year. last against racism and police brutality.

Kristen Clarke, U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, and Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams announced the investigation into possible abuse in the city of Mount Vernon, which has a population of approximately 70,000, and its police department.

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Clarke said investigators would look at evidence suggesting that black residents are being targeted for “abuse and excessive force” and that police supervisors could teach this targeting.

The investigation, she said, was prompted by publicly available advice and information.

“We have received reports of the repeated use of excessive force, often against people in handcuffs,” Clarke said. Likewise, reports indicate that officers routinely carried out searches without sufficient legal basis, including strip searches.

A spokesperson for Mount Vernon said the city was preparing to issue a statement and hold a press conference on the matter.

Biden made the issue of racial justice a priority following the May 2020 police murder of a black man named George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer who was later convicted of murder.

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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Will Dunham