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Nine members of the Minneapolis City Council, a veto-proof majority of the council’s 13 members, announced their intention to defund and dismantle the city’s police department and build a new public safety system.
“We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department,” City Council member Jeremiah Ellison tweeted on Saturday. “And when we are done, we’re not simply gonna glue it back together. We are going to dramatically rethink how we approach public safety and emergency response.”
Council President Lisa Bender told CNN, “We need to listen, especially to our black leaders, to our communities of color, for whom policing is not working and to really let the solutions lie in our community.”
Bender said that analysis of 911 calls revealed that most calls were made for mental health, health, emergency medical technician (EMT) and fire services, services that did not require the intervention of the police. She emphasized that funding from the police department would first be shifted to the development of community based strategies.
In interviews on Saturday, council members further specified that they would refer to past studies, consent decrees and police reforms in other nations to decide on how they would proceed with the process.
During a rally on Saturday evening, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said that he did not believe in abolishing the police. Although the City Council is in charge of the police budget, Mayor Fray holds veto power over the council’s actions.
However, the council has assured that they hold enough votes to override a veto by Fray who was criticized by protesters during Saturday’s rally for his stance.
On Sunday, Fray clarified that although he was opposed to the abolition of the police department, he would “work relentlessly” with the Minneapolis police chief and the community “towards deep structural reform and addressing systemic racism in police culture.” He also said he supported enacting more “community led public safety strategies.”
Activists have spoken out in support of the Minneapolis City Council members’ decision.
At a Sunday rally, director of Black Visions Collective Kandace Montgomery said, “It shouldn’t have taken so much death to get us here. We are safer without armed, unaccountable patrols supported by the state hunting black people.”
Since the killing of George Floyd, a black man by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, protests have broken out in all states across the country, with growing calls by protesters to defund and dismantle the cities’ police departments.
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