CORRECTION: Forbes reported that Minneapolis City Council officially voted to disband the police. However, it appears that they did not formally vote yet, they only announced that they had enough votes to disband the police department and be veto-proof.
Minneapolis, MN – Members of the Minneapolis City Council announced Sunday that they had enough votes to disband the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and replace police with “community-based” solutions to public safety.
The city council announced that they had a supermajority which could not be vetoed by Mayor Jacob Frey, according to KSTP.
“It is clear that our system of policing is not keeping our communities safe,” City Council President Lisa Bender said. “Our efforts at incremental reform have failed, period.”
“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,” Bender added.
The city plans to replace police with “community-based” solutions. They don’t currently have a plan for what these community-based solutions actually entail, but Bender said that they would talk to the community to figure that out later.
Bender said that dissolving the police department would happen in intermediate steps over the coming months. It’s not clear if any police officers will stay around long enough for that to happen.
Minneapolis City Ward Three Councilor Steve Fletcher made the initial announcement of the plan to disband the police department in a series of tweets on Tuesday.
Fletcher alleged that the actions of the Minneapolis police have become increasingly dangerous since the May 25 in-custody death of 46-year-old George Floyd, and claimed officers have managed to “escalate and provoke anger all week.”
He noted that the entire city council has been pushing for criminal justice reform in various ways, but boasted that he has “pretty consistently been on the front edge of the fight to give MPD less money and more accountability,” even before Floyd’s death.
In the wake of Floyd’s death, “the people in the streets of Minneapolis…got four officers immediately fired,” Fletcher wrote. “People in the streets got Derek Chauvin charged, and his prosecution transferred to the [State’s Attorney General’s Office].”
Fletcher said that it has become clear that “people in the streets” have proven that a “permanent, generational change to the mainstream view of policing” is imminent.
During an interview on Wednesday, Fletcher said that the MPD is “ungovernable” and that MPD Chief Medaria Arradondo has failed to “make the culture change happen that we were hoping for an investing in,” KSTU reported.
Fletcher said they would like to replace the city’s police force by starting “fresh with a community-oriented, non-violent public safety and outreach” model.
“Our city needs a public safety capacity that doesn’t fear our residents. That doesn’t need a gun at a community meeting. That considers itself part of our community. That doesn’t resort quickly to pepper spray when people are understandably angry. That doesn’t murder black men,” Fletcher wrote.
Fletcher said that the city must “totally reimagine what public safety means,” right down to what skills they are recruiting for.
“We can invest in cultural competency and mental health training, de-escalation and conflict resolution,” he suggested. “The whole world is watching, and we can declare policing as we know it a thing of the past, and create a compassionate, non-violent future.”
“It will be hard. But so is managing a dysfunctional relationship with an unaccountable armed force in our city,” he lamented.
Fletcher also alleged that the MPD has tried to punish him in the past for cutting the department’s funding.
“Politicians who cross the MPD find slowdowns in their wards,” he claimed. “After the first time I cut money from the proposed police budget, I had an uptick in calls taking forever to get a response, and MPD officers telling business owners to call their councilman about why it took so long.”
Several community partners have already cut ties with MPD in the wake of Floyd’s death.
First up was the University of Minnesota, which announced on May 28 that it will no longer use the MPD or its K9 explosive-detection units to help manage security at large events such as ceremonies, concerts, and football games, Sports Illustrated reported.
The demand for the University of Minnesota to sever ties with the MPD was made in a letter from undergraduate student body president Jael Kerandi.
“We no longer wish to have a meeting or come to an agreement, there is no middle ground,” Kerandi wrote. “The police are murdering black men with no meaningful repercussions. This is not a problem of some other place or some other time. This is happening right here in Minneapolis.”
On Tuesday, the Minneapolis Public School Board unanimously voted to end its decades-long relationship with MPD, the Star Tribune reported.
“I value people and education and life,” chairwoman Kim Ellison told the paper. “Now I’m convinced, based on the actions of the Minneapolis Police Department, that we don’t have the same values.”
School board member Kimberly Caprini said that she “firmly [believes] that it is completely unnatural to have police in schools.”
The Minneapolis Park Board followed suit on Wednesday with a vote to terminate its relationship with the MPD, KSTU reported.
Police have guarded events on the park property in the past.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was arrested on May 29 and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death during his arrest. His charges have since been upgraded to second-degree murder.
On June 3, former Minneapolis Police Officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder for their role in Floyd’s arrest.
The officers had responded to a call about a counterfeit $20 that Floyd had allegedly used to make a purchase at a deli.
Store employees pointed out the suspect to police and they arrested him.
The complaint used to charge Chauvin said Floyd actively resisted arrest and then fought being put in the back of a police car once he had been handcuffed.
Viral cell phone video showed then-Officer Chauvin and three other officers holding Floyd on the ground.
The video showed Officer Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, during which time the suspect lost consciousness.
Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after he was unresponsive.
Floyd was pronounced dead 90 minutes later at the hospital.
After three days of violent riots and looting that left Minneapolis and its sister city, St. Paul, in flames, the state investigative agency announced it making an arrest.
Chauvin was taken into custody by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension four days after the incident and held on a $500,000 bond, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington announced, according to WCCO.
According to charging documents, the medical examiner’s preliminary report found no physical evidence that Floyd had suffered from asphyxiation or strangulation at the hands of the Minneapolis police.
The preliminary autopsy findings indicated Floyd had died from a combination of his underlying medical problems and possible substances.
“The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death,” according to the complaint.
But veteran forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden told reporters on Monday at the Floyd family press conference that his independent autopsy determined that the man had died of asphyxiation much in the same way Eric Garner died from a choke hold in New York in 2014, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The Eric Garner autopsy report showed no damage to any area of his neck, and it was determined that he died of a medical emergency induced by officers who were arresting him.
But the final autopsy findings released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office hours later confirmed that Floyd had died from heart failure.
“Cause of death: Cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression,” Floyd’s autopsy said. “Manner of death: Homicide.”
“How injury occurred: Decedent experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s),” the report continued. “Other significant conditions: Arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease; fentanyl intoxication; recent methamphetamine use.”
The toxicology results showing fentanyl and methamphetamine directly contradicted assertions by the forensic pathologist that Floyd’s family’s attorneys hired to dispute the initial medical examiner’s report.
And a postmortem nasal swab showed that Floyd tested positive SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, according to KSTP. He had previously tested positive for COVID-19 in April 3.
Protests erupted in the Twin Cities after Floyd’s death, leaving both Minneapolis and the state’s capital of St. Paul burned, looted, and destroyed.
Rioters overran and torched the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct where the officers accused of Floyd’s homicide were assigned.
Protests spread across the United States, and became very violent in major cities like Atlanta, Dallas, Portland, Oakland, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Washington, DC.