The US Justice Department has launched a civil rights inquiry into police to find out whether officers targeted Black residents for “abuse and excessive force” in the New York suburb of Mount Vernon.
Since the beginning of the year, the department's Civil Rights Division has launched investigations into police practices in Minneapolis, Phoenix and Louisville, Kentucky, following protests in numerous US cities last year against racism and police brutality, according to Reuters.
US Justice Department officials announced the investigation into possible abuses by the city of Mount Vernon, which has about 70,000 residents, and its police department.
Kristen Clarke, assistant US attorney general for the civil rights division, said investigators will look at evidence suggesting that Black residents were targeted for "abuse and excessive force," and police conducted illegal searches.
"We have received information about the repeated use of excessive force, often against individuals who are handcuffed," Clarke said. "Similarly, reports indicate that officers routinely conducted searches without sufficient legal basis, including strip searches."
Mount Vernon officials said they will fully cooperate with the federal government’s investigation.
Police brutality has sparked mass protests across the US in recent years.
One of the most high-profile cases that led to the death of African American George Floyd in May last year sparked angry protests across the US and the world.
Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was lately convicted of murder and manslaughter charges in the death of Floyd.
Prosecutors in Minnesota called actions by Chauvin an "egregious abuse" of his position, saying, “Defendant's conduct was also particularly cruel.”
The protests evolved into a nationwide battle between progressives and far-right groups after former president Donald Trump took a hardline stance against the anti-racism protests.