In a lawsuit filed last month by the Minneapolis NAACP, the organization alleges that the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) used social media to spy on local members as part of an orchestrated, decade-long campaign of harassment to undermine local activists. 

The University of Minnesota Law School’s Racial Justice Law Clinic (RJLC) and the Law Office of Tim Phillips jointly filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Minneapolis NAACP, accusing the MPD of using covert social media accounts to surveil the NAACP and its members.  

The RJLC released a statement on April 27, noting that “this racially discriminatory surveillance … was unconstitutional, violating the plaintiff’s First Amendment right to free expression and Fourteenth Amendment to be free from racially discriminatory policing.” It also alleges federal and state legal claims under Title VI and the Minnesota Human Rights Law.

The lawsuit, which is seeking both monetary and punitive damages from both the MPD and the City of Minneapolis is the result of findings from a 2022 Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) report that showed MPD misconduct for at least 10 years, which included officers posing as Black community members and went on social media to interact, criticize, and harass the NAACP and its members. 

The nearly 150-page report later led to a consent decree with MDHR and the City of Minneapolis. However, the consent decree does not provide relief to the Minneapolis NAACP for the alleged surveillance of the organization and its members.

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