Majority of Minneapolis City Council announces support for dismantling police department

Nine members of the Minneapolis City Council announced their support for disbanding the Minneapolis Police Department at a rally Sunday afternoon in Powderhorn Park. City Council President Lisa Bender said, “our commitment is to end our toxic relationship with MPD and to end policing as we know it to recreate systems of public safety that …

Nine members of the Minneapolis City Council announced their support for disbanding the Minneapolis Police Department at a rally Sunday afternoon in Powderhorn Park.

City Council President Lisa Bender said, “our commitment is to end our toxic relationship with MPD and to end policing as we know it to recreate systems of public safety that actually keep us safe.”

City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins was joined on stage by council members Alondra Cano, Philippe Cunningham, Jeremiah Ellison, Steve Fletcher, Cam Gordon, Andrew Johnson and Jeremy Schroeder at the end of the rally to announce their intent to end the Minneapolis Police Department through a budgetary process.

“This council is going to dismantle this police department,” Ellison said.  Alondra Cano who represents the 9th Ward replied, “we are going to create a fear-free future where every life is truly protected and respected.”  

Minneapolis City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison announces his support for dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department on Sunday, June 7, 2020, at Powderhorn Park.
Minneapolis City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison announces his support for dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department on Sunday, June 7, 2020, at Powderhorn Park. Beth McDonough/KSTP

They said they would divert those funds toward a community-based public safety model.

“We have a paradigm for safety that is rooted in community and justice. We have seen it the last two weeks, Cunningham said. “The reality is that people have been doing this work for decades and not being paid. We have poured that money into the police department and where has it gotten us?”

As the council members stood on stage, they read from banners that outlined their joint commitment to public safety reform:

  • “Decades of police reform efforts have proved that the Minneapolis Police Department cannot be reformed and will never be accountable for its actions.
  • “We are here today to begin the process of ending the Minneapolis Police Department and creating a new transformative model for cultivating safety in our city.
  • “We recognize that we don’t have all the answers about what a police-free future looks like, but our community does. We’re committing to engaging with every willing community member in the City of Minneapolis over the next year to identify what safety looks like for everyone.
  • “We’ll be taking intermediate steps towards ending the MPD through the budget process and other policy and budget decisions over the coming weeks and months.”

The nine council members make up a veto-proof supermajority of the council, which currently has 12 members.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey made an impromptu announcement to a crowd of protesters on Saturday that he did not support ending the Minneapolis Police Department. He reaffirmed his position on Sunday in response to the rally.

“I’ll work relentlessly with Chief (Medaria) Arradondo and alongside community toward deep, structural reform and addressing systemic racism in police culture. And we’re ready to dig in and enact more community-led, public safety strategies on behalf of our city. But I do not support abolishing the Minneapolis Police Department,” Frey said in a statement.

Social justice organizations Black Visions and Reclaim the Block organized the community meeting. According to a news release, the groups have been pushing for divestment from the Minneapolis Police Department since 2018.  Miski Noor is with Black Visions, “MPD has shown us who they really are over and over and over again.”

The nationwide push for dismantling police departments is gaining traction in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who was killed while former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck.

Chauvin was fired from the police department on May 26 and was later charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death. His first court appearance is on Monday.

The three other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest and subsequent death — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — were all fired the same day as Chauvin and were last week each charged with unintentional aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

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