Tags: America Protests | Minneapolis | Disband Police

Minneapolis Council Majority Backs Disbanding Police Force

Minneapolis Council Majority Backs Disbanding Police Force
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey leaves a demonstration calling for the Minneapolis Police Department to be defunded. Frey declined when he was asked if he would fully defund the police and was then asked to leave the protest. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
 

By    |   Sunday, 07 June 2020 08:17 PM

A solid majority of the Minneapolis City Council pledged on Sunday to disband the local police department and replace it with a new model of public safety, The New York Times reported.

Nine of the council’s 13 members said the changes to be decided upon that will replace the police department are expected to be adopted in the coming weeks.

Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender said Sunday that the decision is necessary, because “it is clear that our existing system of policing and public safety is not keeping our communities safe. Our efforts at incremental reform have failed. Period,” according to The Appeal.

Bender went on to say she and the eight other council members that joined the rally are committed to ending the city’s relationship with the police force and “to end policing as we know it and recreate systems that actually keep us safe.”

The pledge comes a few days after Bender and other council members raised the idea to do away with the department and two weeks after the death of George Floyd while in police custody.

Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died May 25 after a white officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck, ignoring his “I can't breathe” cries and holding it there even after Floyd stopped moving. His death sparked protests — some violent, many peaceful — that spread nationwide.

Community activists have criticized the Minneapolis department for years for what they say is a racist and brutal culture that resists change. The state of Minnesota launched a civil rights investigation of the department last week, and the first concrete changes came Friday in a stipulated agreement in which the city agreed to ban chokeholds and neck restraints.

A more complete remaking of the department is likely to unfold in coming months.

Disbanding an entire department has happened before. In 2012, with crime rampant in Camden, New Jersey, the city disbanded its police department and replaced it with a new force that covered Camden County. Compton, California, took the same step in 2000, shifting its policing to Los Angeles County.

It was a step that then-Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department was considering for Ferguson, Missouri, after the death of Michael Brown. The city eventually reached an agreement short of that but one that required massive reforms overseen by a court-appointed mediator.

The move to defund or abolish the Minneapolis department is far from assured, with the civil rights investigation likely to unfold over the next several months.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey objected to the move to dismantle the police department on Saturday night at a demonstration outside his home organized by Black Visions Collective against police violence.

“I have been coming to grips with my own responsibility, my own failure in this," Frey said. When pressed on whether he supported their demands, Frey said: “I do not support the full abolition of the police department.”

His statement was met with loud boos.

Although Frey has overseen reforms to the police department since becoming mayor two years ago, more recently he has faced criticism from community groups for backing increases to the police budget and for the city’s perceived failure to invest significantly in public safety programs.

At another march Saturday during which leaders called for defunding the department, Verbena Dempster said she supported the idea.

“I think, honestly, we’re too far past” the chance for reform, Dempster told Minnesota Public Radio. “We just have to take down the whole system.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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A majority of the members of the Minneapolis City Council said Sunday they support disbanding the city's police department, an aggressive stance that comes just as the state has launched a civil rights investigation after George Floyd's death.Nine of the council's 12...
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Sunday, 07 June 2020 08:17 PM
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