Minneapolis City Council Votes to Completely Dismantle and Replace Police Department

A veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council announced plans on Sunday to dismantle the city’s police department and replace it with system of community-based public safety.

City Council President Lisa Bender and Council Vice President Andre Jenkins stood before a crowd in Powderhorn Park to explain that “efforts at incremental reform have failed,” and that the city needed instead to completely take apart and replace its police system. Speaking on behalf of the City Council’s majority, Bender made a promise 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.”

Nine members of the Minneapolis City Council have committed to the move, a super-majority that cannot be overruled by Mayor Jacob Frey. Frey, a young Democrat who has shown sympathy for the national protests in response to the death of George Floyd, was booed out of a rally on Saturday after he would not agree to abolishing the Minneapolis Police Department.

And while the mayor would not commit to the City Council’s demand to completely dismantle the police department, he responded to Sunday’s announcement by saying he would “work relentlessly” both with the chief of police and the community “toward deep, structural reform and addressing systemic racism in police culture.” He added that he was “ready to dig in and enact more community-led public safety strategies.”

Though it is yet unclear what a new public safety system would look like, the City Council controls the budget to the police department, and its announcement Sunday responded to what has become a national rallying cry to “defund the police.” With the exception of New York City, whose mayor Bill de Blasio has stated he would divert funds away from the police department and put them towards social services, Minneapolis is the only major city in the country to commit to completely replacing its current system of law enforcement with a modern program that prioritizes the community.

“Our commitment is to do what’s necessary to keep every single member of our community safe,” Bender told the cheering crowd, “and to tell the truth, that the Minneapolis police are not doing that.”

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