The Minneapolis City Council just voted unanimously disband the police department that took George Floyd’s life.
In response to the police killing of George Floyd and local/international outcry, members of the Minneapolis City Council will disband the city’s embattled police department, in a majority vote that is believed to be veto-proof.
“We’re here because we hear you. We are here today because George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). 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,” Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender said Sunday. “Our efforts at incremental reform have failed. Period.”
“We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department,” tweeted Council Member Jeremiah Ellison, promising to “dramatically rethink” the city’s approach. In TIME Magazine, Minneapolis Council Member Steve Fletcher called out the department’s “decades-long history of violence and discrimination…we can resolve confusion over a $20 grocery transaction without drawing a weapon or pulling out handcuffs.”
The Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey appeared at a protest against police violence and told the crowd that he opposed disbanding the department, which earned him a stern rebuke, with The New York Times calling the scene a “humiliation on a scale almost unimaginable outside of cinema or nightmare.”
“The last Democratic mayor, Betsy Hodges, handled the murder of Jamar poorly. We told her she was going to lose her job. And she did,” Miski Noor, a Black Visions Collective organizer, said on Frey’s refusal to disband the Minneapolis Police Department.
The criticism of the MPD is not new. As The Appeal noted, “Since taking office in January 2018, Frey has overseen reforms to the MPD’s body camera policy that impose harsher discipline on officers who fail to comply, and barred officers from participating in so-called “Bulletproof Warrior” training, which encourages law enforcement to use deadly force if they feel their lives are in jeopardy. The officer who shot and killed Philando Castile during a 2016 traffic stop had attended a seminar two years earlier.
“For years, activists have argued that MPD has failed to actually keep the city safe, and City Councilmembers echoed that sentiment today during their announcement. MPD’s record for solving serious crimes in the city is consistently low. For example, in 2019, Minneapolis police only cleared 56% of cases in which a person was killed. For rapes, the police department’s solve rate is abysmally low. In 2018, their clearance rate for rape was just 22%. In other words, four out of every five rapes go unsolved in Minneapolis. Further casting doubt on the department’s commitment to solving sexual assaults, MPD announced last year the discovery of 1,700 untested rape kits spanning 30 years, which officials said had been misplaced.
“The Council’s move is consistent with rapidly-shifting public opinion regarding the urgency of overhauling the American model of law enforcement. Since Floyd’s killing and the protests that ensued, officials in Los Angeles and New York City have called for making deep cuts to swollen police budgets and reallocating those funds for education, affordable housing, and other social services. Law enforcement officers are not equipped to be experts in responding to mental health crises, often leading to tragic results—nationally, about half of police killings involve someone living with mental illness or disability. As a result, public health experts have long advocated for dispatching medical professionals and/or social workers, not armed police, to respond to calls related to substance use and mental health. Polling from Data for Progress indicates that more than two-thirds of voters – 68% – support the creation of such programs, versions of which are already in place in other cities such as, Eugene, Oregon; Austin, Texas; and Denver, Colorado.”
“Our commitment is to do what is necessary to keep every single member of our community safe and to tell the truth that the Minneapolis Police are not doing that,” Bender said Sunday. “Our commitment is to end our city’s toxic relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department, to end policing as we know it, and to recreate systems of public safety that actually keep us safe.”