Minneapolis Voters Reject Replacing Police With New Public Safety Department
Despite the national outcry over the killing of George Floyd, the city of Minneapolis will not replace the local police department with a new Department of Public Safety.
November 03, 2021 at 12:36 pm
Minneapolis Police Reform
After only 17 months since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, which instigated massive protests in the city and nationwide, voters emphatically denied steps to reform the city's police department during Tuesday's election.
The referendum, labeled Question 2 on the ballot, called for Minneapolis citizens to improve the city's charter by reforming the current state of policing and replacing it with a Department of Public Safety that "would prioritize a 'comprehensive public health approach,'" CBS News reports.
Question 2 asked Minneapolis voters the following: "Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to remove the Police Department and replace it with a Department of Public Safety that employs a comprehensive public health approach to the delivery of functions by the Department of Public Safety, with those specific functions to be determined by the Mayor and City Council by ordinance; which will not be subject to exclusive mayoral power over its establishment, maintenance, and command; and which could include licensed peace officers (police officers), if necessary, to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety, with the general nature of the amendments being briefly indicated in the explanatory note below, which is made a part of this ballot?"
Activist groups like Yes4Minneapolis, a Black-led multiracial movement that is diligently working toward enacting public safety throughout the city, favored the initiative. The group commented on the results of the vote in a statement.
"We spoke the truth while the opposition, Democrats and Republicans alike, spread lies and mischaracterized our measure to create confusion, distrust, and fear," the group tweeted.
Initially, calls to defund the police garnered mass support and was embraced in the summer of 2020 because the movement was centered on redistributing police budgets into social programs. But when violent crime erupted nationwide, especially in Minneapolis, politicians turned away from the new proposal. Even left-of-center organizations like the ACLU and MoveOn.org withdrew from advancing the "police defunding" mission.
As a result, 55% of voters felt that the police department should not be reduced in size, yet, 49% of voters favored a department of public safety, according to a Minneapolis Star Tribune poll in September.
The concerns from the opposition of the amendment, the "No" campaign, including "All of Mpls" and funded by local business interests, indicated that the amendment lacked in addressing major details.
"It does not present any sort of plan for what will come after," campaign manager Leili Fatehi said, NPR reports. "There's no specificity as to what services [the Department of Public Safety] would provide, what law enforcement would look like, what residents can expect."
Opponents also added that it's a tumultuous time to have an uncertain foundation in policing considering the exodus of officers leaving the Minneapolis Police Department, which is presently understaffed as the city experiences a record increase in gun violence and homicides.
Miski Noor, an organizer with Black Visions, a grassroots organization based in Minneapolis, told HuffPost that despite the outcome of the vote, the demands for change will be ongoing.
"Abolishing a system that murders Black people indiscriminately is what is eventually necessary and what we are hopefully moving towards,” Noor said. “The steps we are getting now is what it means to respond to violence. These are the interventions we need to support people. Folks hear ‘abolish,’ but they think it is about destruction. But it really is about building up.”