Severe segregation in the Twin Cities region is a relatively recent phenomenon. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Minneapolis region was one of the most racially integrated in the nation. This was partially the product of a carefully designed “fair share” program that required all municipalities within the region to develop affordable housing within their borders, preventing suburbs from effectively barring low-income residents, as had occurred in most major American cities. Minneapolis also operated an aggressive school desegregation plan. But over time, both programs broke down under pressure from special interests and were substituted for by less politically troublesome programs.
This new approach focused more on improving segregated schools than eliminating them, and uplifting impoverished neighborhoods without directly addressing the region’s racialized living patterns. Combined with an increase in the region’s racial diversity, this policy shift caused residential and educational segregation — almost always closely linked — to rapidly spike.
…When police forces live in neighborhoods that are racially and socioeconomically distinct from the areas they serve, the police themselves can start to [act] less like community representatives, and more like an occupying force. A police officer who lives out of town, interacting with the resident of a poor or segregated neighborhood, is a microcosm of the embedded racial tensions across an entire geographic region.