Sunday, October 2, 2022

After George Floyd, Minneapolis voters decide the future of the police department

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Voters in Minneapolis were deciding Tuesday whether to replace the city’s police department with a new public safety department, more than a year after George Floyd died under the knee of a white police officer , which started a movement to defame or eliminate the police. across the country.

Democratic Mayor Jacob Frey was also in a tough fight for a second term, facing a mob of opponents who have attacked him for his leadership in the wake of Floyd’s death. Frey opposed the Police Amendment. Two of his main challengers in the field of 17 candidates, Sheila Nezad and Kate Knuth, strongly supported the proposal.

Minneapolis voters were also deciding whether to replace the city’s unusual “weak mayor, strong council” system with a more traditional distribution of executive and legislative powers that would give the mayor clear authority over day-to-day government functions.

Read more: Minneapolis approves cuts in police budget, not staffing

While the results of ballot questions were expected Tuesday night, the mayoral race was a question mark because the city uses rank choice voting. If no candidate reaches 50% in the first round of counting, the winner will be determined on Wednesday after a tally of second and possible third choice votes.

A “Yes on 2” yard sign stands before the November 2nd vote on the future of the police department in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US, October 28, 2021. The picture was taken on October 28, 2021. Photo by Nicole Neri/Reuters.

The future of policing in the city where Floyd’s death in May 2020 triggered a nationwide countdown on racial justice affected everything on the municipal ballot. The debate drew national attention to the election, as well as a river of out-of-state money sought to influence a contest that could shape changes in policing elsewhere.

The proposed amendment to the city charter would remove the language that Minneapolis has a police department with a minimum number of officers based on population. It will be replaced by a new Department of Public Safety that will take a “comprehensive public health approach to the delivery of tasks” that may include “police officers” to carry out their responsibilities for public safety, if necessary. “

Proponents of the change argued that thorough policing was needed to prevent police violence. He framed it as an opportunity to re-imagine what public safety could be and to devote more money toward new approaches that do not rely on sending armed officers to deal with people in distress.

But opponents said the ballot proposal contained no concrete plans for how the new department would work and expressed fears that it could make communities already affected by gun violence even more vulnerable to increased crime. The details, and who will lead the new agency, will be determined by the mayor and city council.

Two nationally prominent Progressive Democratic leaders — U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar, who represents the Minneapolis area, and State Attorney General Keith Ellison — both supported the police amendment. But some prominent mainstream liberals, including Gov. Tim Walz and US censors. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith protested and feared the reaction could cause Democratic losses nationwide in 2022.

Support did not clearly follow racial lines. Opponents included several prominent black leaders, including some who have been top voices in the police accountability movement.

Minister Jane Bates, a spokeswoman for the pro-Amendment campaign, told reporters Monday that even if the proposal fails, the activists behind it have changed the conversation around public safety.

“No matter what happens, the city of Minneapolis has to move forward and really fight what we don’t know: that the Minneapolis Police Department is capable of acting with impunity and has done a lot of damage and the city has to repair it.” To take some serious steps,” Bates said.


Mohamed Ibrahim is a core member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on secret issues.

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