Minneapolis is where the now nationwide protests against police brutality began, after African-American man George Floyd was killed by a white police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on his neck on the ground for nearly nine minutes.
The City Council of Minneapolis has pledged to disband the Minneapolis Police Department, with the nine members making a veto-proof majority to support the decision. They also promised to come up with a new community-led system for public safety. Eight of the thirteen Council members delivered the statement to the residents of Minneapolis on Sunday.
“Decades of police reform efforts have proved that the Minneapolis Police Department cannot be reformed, and will never be accountable for its action. 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”, the Council statement said.
Thank you to the thousands of community members who have raised your voices to demand change. Thank you to @reclaimtheblock & @BlackVisionsMN for inviting us in. Today is a beginning. Minneapolis: we invite you to be part of building a system so our whole community is safe. https://t.co/fMaCw8HfyH
— Lisa Bender (@lisabendermpls) June 7, 2020
Announcing the decisions, Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender acknowledged that the “existing system of policing and public safety is not keeping our communities safe”.
“We’re here because we hear you. We are here today because George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis Police. We are here because here in Minneapolis and in cities across the United States it is clear that our existing system of policing and public safety is not keeping our communities safe,” Bender said Sunday.
Council President Lisa Bender’s remarks. pic.twitter.com/ypZ4SsLWwJ
— Wedge LIVE!™ (@WedgeLIVE) June 7, 2020
Elaborating on the dismantling of the police department, Bender told CNN that the plans are to “shift police funding toward community-based strategies and that the city council would discuss how to replace the current police department”.
American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, responding to the Council’s decision, said in its Twitter account that it will hold the Council accountable for “creating a system that eliminates the racial disparities that have long defined our criminal-justice system”.
We will hold you accountable for creating a system that eliminates the racial disparities that have long defined our criminal-justice system, and that ends brutality by law enforcement officers and whoever replaces them.
— ACLU of Minnesota (@ACLUMN) June 8, 2020
Commenting on the Council’s decision, the chair of the Public Safety Committee, councilwoman Alondra Cano, said that the pledge “signals a strong and clear direction about where this is going”, cited by the New York Times.
At a rally this weekend, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said he does not support abolishing the police department, which resulted in immediate condemnation from the crowd, who shamed and booed him out of the rally. It is Frey that police answer to, although the City Council controls the budget. Frey can veto the Council’s decision, but the members say they have enough votes to override his ban.
Minneapolis is the starting point for widespread anti-police-brutality protests that have rocked all 50 of the United States and most major urban areas, as well as spreading to other countries, after African-American George Floyd was killed in custody by white police officer Derek Chauvin and his three white counterparts. All four were fired and arrested.