OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Minneapolis residents have announced that they are suing the City Council for lack of law enforcement after voting to defund police department, according to The Washington Examiner.
On June 7th, in the wake of the death of George Floyd, nine Minneapolis City Council members stood on a stage which boldly displayed “defund police,” and read a prepared statement to a crowd in Powderhorn Park:
Over 1,000 people in Powderhorn Park for a meeting with city council members on next steps for dismantling MPD. I’ve spotted 9 of 12 Minneapolis City Council members here. pic.twitter.com/wjJqsoEszr
— Becky Zosia Dernbach (@bzosiad) June 7, 2020
“Decades of police reform efforts have proven that the MPD cannot be reformed+will never be responsible for its action. We are here today to begin the process of ending the Minneapolis Police Department and creating a new, transformative model for cultivating safety in Minneapolis. We recognize that we don’t have all the answers about what a police-free future looks like, but our community does. We’re committed to engaging with every willing community member in the City of Minneapolis over the next year to identify what safety looks like for you. We’ll be taking intermediate steps towards ending the MPD through the budget process+other policy+budget decisions over the coming weeks_months.”
Today #Minneapolis City Council members announced their commitment to end the MPD+create a new transformative model of public safety.
1. Decades of police reform efforts have proven that the MPD cannot be reformed+will never be responsible for its action.
— Aya “Joe Biden is my uber driver” de Leon🇵🇷 (@AyadeLeon) June 8, 2020
The council members on stage were Council President Lisa Bender, Vice President Andrea Jenkins and Council Members Alondra Cano, Phillippe Cunningham, Jeremiah Ellison, Steve Fletcher, Cam Gordon, Andrew Johnson, and Jeremy Schroeder.
Then on June 12th, the Minneapolis City Council “unanimously passed a resolution to pursue a community-led public safety system to replace the police department following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the city’s police. The move comes days after a veto-proof majority of the council voted to disband the police department after the country erupted in protest over the killing of Floyd,” Reuters reported. They drafted a city ordinance amendment that suggested replacing the police force with a “Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention,” which would consist of peace officers who would ensure public safety through “a holistic, public health-oriented approach.”
The next day, Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender went on CNN’s “New Day” and said that calling the police for help in an emergency “comes from a place of privilege.”
Council Member Steve Fletcher then wrote an article for TIME saying that he was “publicly supporting the call to disband our police department and start fresh with a community-oriented, non-violent public safety and outreach capacity.”
Fast forward three difficult months.
On September 15th, a City Council meeting was held in which Council Members Lisa Bender, Steve Fletcher, and Andrew Johnson (all three of whom were present in Powderhorn Park for the “defund” announcement) expressed their frustration to police chief Medaria Arradondo that there was an increase in violent crime across the city.
Fletcher said that the police officers were “not doing anything to prevent robberies” and inquired about the “significant increase in extremely dangerous and reckless driving.”
Bender said that police officers “are not enforcing crime,” speculating that it may be “because they don’t support council members, or in some cases, the mayor, or perhaps they think that they’re making the case for more resources for the department.”
Johnson said he “would appreciate some more information on how we’re addressing the car jackings. There have been a number of them in the community, and they’ve really terrorized residents.” He continued by asking, “How we actually hold these individuals accountable, get them off the streets so they aren’t terrorizing the community?”
Mind you, these are the exact same individuals who stood on a stage in front of a crowd just three months before and literally said that “the Minneapolis Police Department cannot be reformed, and will never be accountable for its actions” and that they are intent on “ending the Minneapolis Police Department.”
Fast forward another month.
Hundreds of police officers have submitted paperwork to leave the Minneapolis police force. Likewise, hundreds of officers have filed disability claims (related to both physical and mental health) due to injuries sustained during these months of riots. As a result of the efforts to restrict and dismantle the police department and the exodus of officers from the area, violent crimes of every type continue to increase. And people are getting tired of it.
Residents of Minneapolis announced that they are suing the City Council for the lack of law enforcement and the resulting increase in crime and violence in the city. Community activist Cathy Spann spoke in a press conference and said,
“We are here, we stand together in unison, to say enough is enough. I am here today to say it is about all of us coming together to make a difference to stop the gun violence that is in our city — downtown, south, north. We are stopping it. We are no longer asking for a plan. We are the plan.”
“We are the plan,” says #Mpls community activist Cathy Spann. She & several other residents have filed a lawsuit, claiming city is not meeting its legal obligation to fund a minimal level of policing. Lawsuit arguments just wrapped up. Judge did not issue a ruling today. @FOX9 pic.twitter.com/3LcTQ3BqAb
— Paul Blume (@PaulBlume_FOX9) October 19, 2020
Don Samuels, a former council member, said that violent crime in his area has increased so significantly that he and his family can no longer leave their home at night.
The City Council and their attorneys say that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the council has met the minimum requirement for police officers in the city. But that’s easy for them to say because when the city council members decided to “rethink” policing in Minneapolis, they also decided that it was appropriate to spend $4,500 of taxpayer money per day on private security for the City Council members, who received threats for the defunding decision. The security detail ended on June 29th but had already racked up a whopping $152,400 bill on the private security.
I wonder why the city council members didn’t feel comfortable with their peace officers taking a ‘holistic and public health-oriented approach’ to protect them from such threats.