The Minneapolis city council has pledged to disband the city’s police department and replace it with a new system of public safety, a historic move that comes as calls to defund law enforcement are sweeping the US.
Speaking at a community rally on Sunday, June 7, a majority of council members declared their intent to “dismantle” and “abolish” the Minneapolis police department responsible for George Floyd’s death and build an alternative model of community-led safety.
Nine of the Minneapolis City Council’s 12 members voted for the huge chance on Sunday afternoon and have vowed to introduce constructive alternatives .
“In Minneapolis and in cities across the US, it is clear that our system of policing is not keeping our communities safe,” said Lisa Bender, the Minneapolis city council president, at the event. “Our efforts at incremental reform have failed, period. Our commitment is to do what’s necessary to keep every single member of our community safe and to tell the truth: that the Minneapolis police are not doing that. Our commitment is to end policing as we know it and to recreate systems of public safety that actually keep us safe.”
“This is a moment that’s going to go down in history as a landmark in the police and prison abolition movement,” said Tony Williams, a member of MPD150, a Minneapolis group whose literature on building a “police-free future”” has been widely shared during the protests. “There’s a groundswell of support for this. People are grounded in the history of policing in a way that has never happened before. It’s visible that police are not able to create safety for communities.”
According to The Guardian, the councilmembers are expected to face opposition from law enforcement officials and the police union, though activists emphasize that the veto-proof majority has the authority to move forward regardless of opposition.
On Saturday, June 6, Minneapolis mayor, Jacob Frey, was booed at a demonstration when he wouldn’t commit to abolishing the police. Protesters shouted, “Go home, Jacob!” and “Shame!” until he left.