REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK | Abolish Minneapolis Civil Rights Department investigations unit?


The story:

Minneapolis mayor R. T. Rybak has proposed to cut the Civil Rights Complaints Investigations Unit of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights (MDCR). This would transfer almost 500 open cases to the Department of Human Rights and put nine people out of jobs. The MDCR uses only one percent of the city’s budget, with the CIU using one-third of one percent according to Minneapolis Civil Rights commissioner Louisa Hext (

What the two sides say:

Save the investigation’s unit Opponents fear that the transfer of cases will place a heavy burden on the state department, adding almost 500 cases to the current state backlog. Many say that the Minnesota Department of Human Rights is poorly run and lacking much-need funding and staff. Residents of Minneapolis will also be losing an important resource that protects their civil rights. Louisa Hext explained that two areas that would especially suffer are sexual harassment cases and welfare cases.

Go ahead and cut Proponents of the cut say that the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is poorly run, needing serious restructuring and better funding. There is a huge time lapse between when a complaint is filed and when the case gets investigated. Besides, the city must make budget cuts because of cuts in local government aid (LGA) from the state. Cutting the investigations unit would save $400,000 annually.


These articles extensively explain the details of the proposal, the responsibilities of the departments in question, and the issues being raised on both sides of the debate:

Community members debate the future of the Civil Rights Department

What’s the future of the Civil Rights Department?

Civil Rights takes a budget beating

Politicians, community stakeholders debate the future of the Civil Rights Department

Reactions to the Rybak plan for Civil Rights Department cuts

ª Minnesota coalition of civil rights opposes Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak budget cutting (Press release)

Find out more, speak out

There will be a community engagement meeting on Thursday, June 11 from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. at Brian Coyle Community Center, 420 15th Avenue S., Minneapolis. There will be a more formal meeting Saturday, June 13 from 2:00-4:00 P.M. at Sabathani Community Center, East 38th St. and 3rd Avenue South, rooms D1 and D2.

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Ellen Frazel is a recent graduate from Macalester College ( with a degree in English and Creative Writing.