Minneapolis, MN – Early voting began on Friday on the Nov. 2 ballot that will determine the fate of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) in the wake of the death of George Floyd that sparked riots nationwide, and a poll showed more white residents than black residents of the city want to do away with the police force.
Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy surveyed 800 registered, likely voters in the city of Minneapolis between Sept. 9 and Sept. 13 and found that 51 percent of white voters supported replacing the police department, but only 42 percent of black voters agreed, KARE reported.
Interestingly, 48 percent of male voters and 49 percent of female voters surveyed were in favor of abolishing and replacing MPD.
The poll conducted for KARE 11/MPR News/Star Tribune/FRONTLINE Minnesota also showed that 49 percent of those likely voters supported replacing the current Minneapolis police with a different public safety model that “may” include police officers while focusing on public health and giving the city council more control over public safety.
But 41 percent of the voters surveyed opposed the proposed changes to the city’s policing structure, KARE reported.
The biggest difference in views about abolishing the police department were seen based on party affiliation.
The data showed that 58 percent of Democrats wanted to do away with the police department, while only seven percent of Republicans supported the change, KARE reported.
Forty-four percent of Independent/Other voters responded that they supported abolishing the police department, according to the Mason-Dixon survey.
“There’s no reason why we can’t achieve a lot of the same goals that amendment puts forth with the existing structure that we have. And that’s on the council,” survey participant Chris Hewitt told KARE.
Hewitt said he opposed doing away with the Minneapolis police.
“It’s going to take the right people in place within the council, within the mayor’s department,” he explained.
But Adrienanna Bettie, who was also polled, told KARE she supported the plan to do away with the old structure and create a new public safety department.
“You might as well try something new if what’s been there hasn’t been working,” Bettie said. “I mean I appreciate the police. [But] a push towards something more. Something more cohesive, that addresses not just one problem, which is the crime, but it addresses the mental health issue.”
The actual language for the ballot is still under dispute, as what was printed on the ballots being used for early voting has been shot down by Hennepin County District Judge Jamie Anderson twice.
“The Court finds that the Current Ballot Language is vague, ambiguous and incapable of implementation, and is insufficient to identify the amendment clearly,” Hennepin County District Judge Jamie Anderson wrote in her ruling on Sept. 7, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
“It is unreasonable and misleading,” Anderson added.
“Shall the Minneapolis city charter be amended to strike and replace the police department with a Department of Public Safety which could include licensed police officers if necessary, with administrative authority to be consistent with other city departments to fulfill its responsibility to public safety?” was how the wording approved by the council read.
Anderson heard arguments from both sides in the lawsuit filed by former Minneapolis Councilmember Don Samuels that said the language was too misleading and vague to be put on the ballot, KARE reported.
Anders used the same adjectives – “unreasonable and misleading” – to describe the new language the city council quickly approved and sent for printing.
Yes 4 Minneapolis, the group behind the move to put abolishing the police on the ballot, immediately appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, , KARE reported.
On Sept. 15, the Minnesota Supreme Court agreed to conduct a fast-tracked review of the ballot language that would change the city charter to do away with the Minneapolis police, Minnesota Public Radio reported.