What does Minneapolis’ decision to disband its police force mean?
Political leaders and councilmembers throughout the country have heard the voices of thousands at protests calling for reform and revolution.
Following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer on Memorial Day, thousands of people took to the streets to protest and demand justice reform. Defunding and disbanding the police to seek a new system for public safety has long been talked about, but is it possible? Before getting there, it’s important to know what it means.
Both these terms are used to reimagine what public safety should look like. Defunding is to reallocate money that is budgeted for the police to other areas of necessity. Disbanding is a more radical proposition to move away from local police, and equip people in the community to respond to crises like mental health service providers, social workers, and advocates according to MPD150, an organization led by the local people of Minneapolis to plan the dissolvement of the police department.
On Sunday, a veto-proof majority, 9 out of the 12 councilmembers from Minneapolis vowed to dismantle the city’s police department.
“We’re here because we hear you. We are here today because George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis Police. 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,” said Lisa Bender, Minneapolis City Council President.
In addition to Bender, other council members who attended and supported the proposal were councilmembers Cam Gordon, Steve Fletcher, Phillipe Cunningham, Jeremiah Ellison, Andrea Jenkins, Alondra Cano, and Jeremy Schroeder.
The ACLU-MN is pleased the Minneapolis City Council is going to disband the police department and focus on community alternatives. Any solution must rely heavily on input from BIPOC, who have been abused and ignored for so long —input that council members are promising to seek.
— ACLU of Minnesota (@ACLUMN) June 8, 2020
The move comes after a long history of the city coming under fire for blatant racism from law enforcement and after organizations such as the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Public Schools, and others chose to limit or terminate their relations with the police department.
Ilhan Omar, the Representative for Minnesota's 5th congressional district, was in attendance when the decision was announced.
“The Minneapolis Police Department is rotten to the root, and so when we dismantle it, we get rid of that cancer, and we allow for something beautiful to rise, and that reimagining allows us to figure out what public safety looks like for us,” she said according to the Washington Sentinel.
I’m at the community meeting at Powderhorn Park in Minneapolis, where City Council members just unveiled a mission statement for reimagining policing. pic.twitter.com/MhVlOpajpU
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 7, 2020
While there is a long road to dismantling and reinventing the law enforcement system in not only Minneapolis, but across all cities in the country, it is a step in the right direction to be proposing and pressuring government officials to move towards a more progressive, equal environment that has long been envisioned.