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Minneapolis City Council Vows To Disband Police Department After Two Weeks Of Protests

by : Lucy Connolly on : 08 Jun 2020 08:01
Minneapolis City Council Vows To Disband Police Department After Two Weeks Of ProtestsMinneapolis City Council Vows To Disband Police Department After Two Weeks Of ProtestsPA Images

The Minneapolis city council has pledged to disband the city’s police department and instead invest in community-led public safety.

The historic moves comes after two weeks of protests which have seen hundreds of thousands of people around the world rallying together to demand justice for black lives, following the death of George Floyd – an unarmed black man – at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

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Speaking at a community rally on Sunday, June 7, a veto-proof majority of Minneapolis City Council members announced their commitment to ‘dismantle’ and ‘abolish’ the police agency responsible for Floyd’s death.

John Boyega Gives Powerful Speech At Black Lives Matter DemonstrationJohn Boyega Gives Powerful Speech At Black Lives Matter DemonstrationPA Images

Nine of the 13 councillors said a ‘new model of public safety’ would be created as they read a statement to hundreds of protesters on Sunday.

City Council President Lisa Bender said, as per The Appeal: ‘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.’

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‘Our efforts at incremental reform have failed. Period,’ she continued, saying that while details of the plan needed to be discussed in further detail, she would attempt to shift police funding towards community-based strategies.

These nine councillors represent a majority on the council, meaning the mayor – who just this weekend opposed disbanding the police department – cannot override them.

Addressing thousands of protesters on Saturday, June 6, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said that while he acknowledges ‘there needs to be deep-seated, structural reform in terms of how the department operates’, ultimately he said: ‘I do not support the full abolition of the police department’.

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However, although the mayor does have oversight over the police, the city council has authority over the budget and policy, and therefore could effectively dismantle the department through cuts and ordinances.

Activists have called the moment a turning point, having fought for years for such a change to the system, however commentators say the city of Minneapolis can now expect a long and complex debate over policing – with council members expected to face opposition from law enforcement officials.

Even with this opposition though, activists emphasise that the veto-proof majority has the authority to move forward regardless. Tony Williams, a member of MPD150 – a Minneapolis group that is ‘working toward a police-free Minneapolis’ – said even if police officers opposed the move, a vast majority of them live outside of Minneapolis and so can’t vote on their elected leaders.

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Williams continued, as per The Guardian:

It’s pretty clear the political will is here, and they can’t stop it… This is a moment that’s going to go down in history as a landmark in the police and prison abolition movement. There’s a groundswell of support for this.

People are grounded in the history of policing in a way that has never happened before. It’s visible that police are not able to create safety for communities.

defund police protestsdefund police protestsPA Images

It’s unclear how quickly this process could take, although supporters are pushing for the council to start with taking money away from the police budget and investing in other government departments and programmes.

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The protests, which were sparked by the killing of Floyd on May 25, have already led to the arrest of all four officers involved, with Derek Chauvin – the white officer who knelt on his neck until he lost consciousness – being charged with second degree murder and the other three with aiding and abetting murder.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.

Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: News, George Floyd, Minneapolis, Minneapolis Police Department, Now, Police, Protests, Racism, US

Credits

The Appeal and 1 other
  1. The Appeal

    MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS ANNOUNCE INTENT TO DISBAND THE POLICE DEPARTMENT, INVEST IN PROVEN COMMUNITY-LED PUBLIC SAFETY

  2. The Guardian

    Minneapolis lawmakers vow to disband police department in historic move