Nine members of the Minneapolis City Council said Sunday that they are planning to disband the police department. The veto-proof majority said they want to replace the police department with a community-based model of public safety. “Our commitment is to end our city’s toxic relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department, to end policing as we know it, and to re-create systems of public safety that actually keep us safe,” Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender said.
The council members made the announcement that they were committed to disband the Minneapolis Police Department through the budget process at a rally Sunday afternoon. “It is clear that our system of policing is not keeping our communities safe,” Bender said. “Our efforts at incremental reform have failed, period.” Jeremiah Ellison blankly said what the goal was: “This council is going to dismantle this police department.”
The council members made their intentions clear a day after protesters reacted with anger after Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said he did not support getting rid of the police department. “I do not support the full abolition of the police department,” Frey said at a demonstration. Angry protesters then called on him to leave the protest. “Go home, Jacob, go home!” many shouted, as others chanted, “Shame!” Frey later said in a television interview that while he was in favor of “massive structural reform to revise a structurally racist system,” he was “not for abolishing the entire police department.”
The Minneapolis City Council members announced their intention on the same day as New York Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed for the first time to cut the funding for the New York Police Department. De Blasio didn’t specify how much of the NYPD’s $6 billion annual budget he intended to cut, saying he would work on the details with the City Council. “We’re committed to seeing a shift of funding to youth services, to social services, that will happen literally in the course of the next three weeks, but I’m not going to go into detail because it is subject to negotiation and we want to figure out what makes sense,” de Blasio said. The announcement marked a stark shift for a mayor who had been openly skeptical about the possibility of slashing funding for the NYPD.
In an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza explained what the increasing calls to “defund the police” mean, insisting it was not about getting rid of police departments entirely. “When we talk about defunding the police, what we’re saying is invest in the resources that our communities need,” she said. “So much of policing right now is generated and directed towards quality-of-life issues, homelessness, drug addiction, domestic violence.” Although some may see the call as extreme, Garza pointed out that Black Lives Matter used to be a “radical idea,” but now it is “a household name and it’s something being discussed across kitchen tables all over the world.” So with that in mind, “Why can’t we start to look at how it is that we reorganize our priorities so that people don’t have to be in the streets protesting during a national pandemic?”