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12 Jun, 2020 21:09

Minneapolis City Council votes to replace current policing system with ‘transformative new model’ in wake of George Floyd protests

Minneapolis City Council votes to replace current policing system with ‘transformative new model’ in wake of George Floyd protests

Minneapolis has officially voted to abolish its existing policing system in favor of a ‘public safety’ model. Hailed as transformative in the wake of protests, the suggestion is still vague on details.

A resolution, jointly co-authored and unanimously approved by all 12 city council members, acknowledged that “no amount of reforms will prevent lethal violence and abuse by some members of the Police Department,” thus virtually declaring the police itself unreformable. It went on to declare the council's intent to create a new “transformative” model of public safety using a “holistic approach" through “community engagement, research, and structural change.”

The document itself was conspicuously scant on any specific proposals for how this goal could be achieved. Instead, it said that the council will start a year-long transformation process and will create a ‘Future of Community Safety Work Group’ tasked with drafting “preliminary recommendations for engaging with specific cultural and stakeholder groups, the community at large and relevant experts” to address the issue.

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The group – consisting of members of various local government structures like the Office of Violence Prevention, the Department of Civil Rights and the City Coordinator's Office – is expected to present its proposals to the council by July 24.

The authorities further vowed to “engage with every willing community member in Minneapolis, centering the voices of black people, American Indian people, people of color, immigrants, victims of harm, and other stakeholders who have been historically marginalized or under-served by our present system.”

The proposal would also allow residents in Minneapolis to vote on whether to remove the police department from the city charter altogether and replace it with some new structure tasked with providing “community safety and violence prevention.”

Five council members plan to introduce an ordinance paving the way for such a vote to amend the city charter as early as on June 26, during the next council meeting. 

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Backed by celebrities and activists, the call to either dissolve the city's police force entirely or drastically reduce its funding has gained traction on the back of the George Floyd protests. However, as of yet there is no single, clear plan for how this can be done. Many have sounded alarms that replacing the force with a “community-led system” might unleash chaos that would hit the most vulnerable communities hardest.

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