Minneapolis City Council Unanimously Moves Forward with Plan to Dismantle Police Department
The 12-0 vote is the latest in a series of steps to allow residents to vote on dismantling the city's police department in November
Minneapolis' city council unanimously voted 12-0 in favor of taking the next steps towards dismantling the city's police department on Friday.
Following the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer last month and a wave of anti-police brutality protests around the globe, the debate surrounding a proposal to dismantle and replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new form of justice has become a focal point among nationwide calls to "defund the police."
The city council members' vote on Friday approved a proposal to make an amendment to the city's charter, which acts as its Constitution, according to the Star Tribune, which reported that making an amendment to Minneapolis' charter would require a citywide vote in November.
Friday's vote is one step in the larger process to allow Minneapolis residents to vote in November on whether to dismantle the city's police department or not, according to the Associated Press, which notes that the proposed amendment will now go to a policy committee and then to Minneapolis' Charter Commission, where citizens and local officials can voice their concerns.
The city has an August 21 deadline to go through the necessary political steps in placing the question about dismantling the police department on the November ballots, the AP reports.
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“I hope that the Charter Commission will recognize the moment that we are in and take our offer of support, however we can provide it, to expedite this process so that voters have a chance to have their voices heard on this important question and this important moment in our city’s history,” Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender said Friday, according to the AP.
But local members of the police community weren't as ready to embrace the public discussion over dismantling the city's department.
Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association's executive director Brian Peters released a statement on Friday afternoon saying the association was "very concerned to see Minnesota’s largest city moving forward with its haphazard effort to dismantle the police department."
"Their proposal, in the midst of a drastic increase of violent gun crimes, is an unserious and disingenuous attempt to satisfy small political factions without providing real resources to address and prevent crime from happening in the city," Peters' statement read.
Mayor Jacob Frey also tweeted Friday afternoon saying he had "serious concerns" about the city council's proposal. "There are critical questions that demand answers," Frey wrote. "It’s still unclear whether we’re asking voters to abolish the police, or if this proposal includes officers."
Frey wrote that he agreed "we need change," but that "residents also need clarity from their elected leaders & a viable path forward."
"I favor full-scale public safety transformation & a complete culture shift in our police [department]," Frey said. "Let’s be clear in both purpose and intention. Let’s move that hard work [forward] together."
City Council member Jeremy Schroeder said in a statement that the council members' vote Friday gives the city "clear direction for correcting deficiencies in [Minneapolis'] current Charter," adding that Friday's vote "would give us tools we need to do that, and to prevent further tragedy and harm to our community."
"It’s important to understand the City Council’s decision to advance this ballot measure does not itself make any changes," Schroeder said. "It is, however, an affirmation of the City Council’s commitment to openly engage the public in our ongoing community safety discussion – and our shared belief in the democratic process."
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
• Campaign Zero which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
• ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
• National Cares Mentoring Movement provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.