MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis leaders voted unanimously Friday to disband the US city’s police force and replace it with a “community” safety department, a reaction to transformational changes demanded in mass protests against racial injustice.
The plan comes three weeks after the death of African-American George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, a killing that sparked widespread calls for police reform.
The Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved a resolution instructing it to “commence a year-long process of community engagement, research, and structural change to create a transformative new model for cultivating safety in our city.”
“The murder of George Floyd… by Minneapolis police officers is a tragedy that shows that no amount of reforms will prevent lethal violence and abuse by some members of the Police Department against members of our community, especially Black people and people of color,” the resolution added.
“Together, we will identify what safety looks like for everyone.”
The council will bring together stakeholders addressing the issues of violence prevention, civil rights, race equity, community relations and 911 emergency services.
The move comes days after the council, with a veto-proof majority, pledged to disband the police department and create a community-oriented replacement. Friday’s vote is the next step in formalizing the move.
“As we respond to demands for immediate action to reduce police violence and support community safety, we will invite our community to help shape long-term transformative change, centering the voices of those most impacted by community violence and police violence,” City Council President Lisa Bender said.
Bender and other councilmembers said they intend to put the police removal plan to Minneapolis voters in the November 3 election.
Some activists have described the broader effort as a movement to “defund the police.” Others have bristled at the language, saying authorities should reform troubled police departments, not scrap them altogether.
Fourteen uniformed Minneapolis police officers signed an open letter Thursday condemning the actions of their former colleague and Floyd’s killer, Derek Chauvin. “This is not who we are,” they wrote.
Minneapolis’s Jewish Mayor Jacob Frey has said he opposes dismantling the police department, though he has supported structural reform. Earlier this week he was booed out of a protest rally after he said he would not defund the police force.
Calls for defunding police departments have been a recurring feature of protests that have swept the nation in the days since Floyd’s death. Last week, the Jewish mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, said he would cut up to $150 million from a planned increase to his city’s police budget, according to The New York Times.
JTA contributed to this report.