As the nation continues to seethe with over two weeks of social upheaval and protests for racial justice and an end to police brutality, the Minneapolis City Council has unanimously passed a veto-proof resolution pledging to replace the city’s police department with a community-led public safety system.
While Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has stated that he doesn’t endorse the idea of dismantling the scandal-embroiled police department – a position that earned him jeers and condemnation from local protesters – he did comment this week that he favors “massive structural reform to revise a structurally racist system,” reports Reuters.
The city council comprised of five members was unequivocal in its demands that the police be disbanded. In its resolution, the body also condemned George’s death as the result of a “murder” – strong language for a city body that would be unimaginable prior to the unrest that resulted from the actions of local law enforcement.
In the resolution, the five council members wrote:
“The murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, by Minneapolis police officers is a tragedy that shows that no amount of reforms will prevent lethal violence and abuse by some members of the Police Department against members of our community, especially Black people and people of color.”
The move comes 18 days after the killing of unarmed 46-year-old Black man George Floyd by Minneapolis police, who died in police custody after now-former Officer Derek Chauvin grinded his knee into Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds while three other officers assisted in the arrest. The four officers have since been fired and face a range of criminal charges for the deadly incident.
The Minneapolis Police Department has proven themselves beyond reform.
It’s time to disband them and reimagine public safety in Minneapolis.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 5, 2020
On Thursday, a handful of Minneapolis police officers issued an open letter condemning the brutal killing of Floyd while expressing their confidence in the leadership provided by Chief Medaria Arradondo. In the letter, published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the officers claimed that their sentiments reflect how the “vast majority” of Minneapolis cops feel.
“We want to work with you and for you to regain your trust,” the officers wrote.
The move from the Minneapolis City Council is a sharp signal of the extent to which the national conversation has shifted in favor of demanding accountability from elected officials who have been criticized for condoning police impunity and offering it the lion’s share of city budgets.
While the movement to “defund the police” or outright abolish it predates the killing of George Floyd, the worldwide and viral spread of grisly footage depicting his horrific death has galvanized forces across the United States to back the demand and push for community solutions to crime and social problems that don’t require violent intervention from the state.
“When we talk about defunding the police, what we’re saying is ‘invest in the resources that our communities need,’” Los Angeles-based Black Lives Matter leader Alicia Garza told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
In a Thursday op-ed for the New York Times, community organizer Mariame Kaba argued for the total abolition of repressive law enforcement bodies. She wrote:
“Don’t get me wrong. We are not abandoning our communities to violence. We don’t want to just close police departments. We want to make them unnecessary.
“We should redirect the billions that now go to police departments toward providing health care, housing, education and good jobs. If we did this, there would be less need for the police in the first place.
“We can build other ways of responding to harms in our society. Trained ‘community care workers’ could do mental-health checks if someone needs help. Towns could use restorative-justice models instead of throwing people in prison.”
The growing push for defunding the police and the growing popularity of the demand has put Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in a bind. Biden, who has historically been a staunch ally to police unions, has doubled down on his rejection of the demand while claiming in an interview on The Daily Show: “I think there are a lot of changes they can take place, period, without having to defund the police completely.”
Joe Biden Calls for Increased Law Enforcement Funds Amid Calls to Defund the Police https://t.co/dhEDyDrkks
— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) June 12, 2020
President Donald Trump has taken advantage of Biden’s seemingly confused position on the proposal by tying the Democratic nominee to it.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted: “Sleepy Joe Biden and the Radical Left Democrats want to ‘DEFUND THE POLICE’. I want great and well paid LAW ENFORCEMENT. I want LAW & ORDER!”
During a roundtable discussion on Monday with law enforcement officials Trump also vowed, “There won’t be defunding, there won’t be dismantling of our police and there is not going to be any disbanding of our police.”
Sleepy Joe Biden and the Radical Left Democrats want to “DEFUND THE POLICE”. I want great and well paid LAW ENFORCEMENT. I want LAW & ORDER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2020