Minneapolis residents will have to wait to vote on any changes to the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). The city council’s proposed Charter Amendment to dismantle and restructure the MPD in favor of a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, would have appeared on the November 3 ballot had the Charter Commission voted yes or no and sent it back to the city council instead of extending the review period.
But the Commission decided Wednesday to delay the vote for 90 days to allow for more time to review the proposal, effectively pushing the measure off the November ballot. The Commission cited a lack of clarity about the amendment, concern with long-term legal ramifications, and lack of public input, among other issues.
The reaction was swift in progressive circles. Black Visions, which on Monday released findings conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group that showed 61% of the 668 people polled favored the amendment, expressed disappointment. “People in Minneapolis have been in the streets for months demanding change, only to hear from the Charter Commission that there haven’t been enough studies and consultants,” said Sophia Benrud of Black Visions in a statement. “When White supremacy is the law of the land, it is a luxury to say we need ‘more time’ before we can make change. “
Color of Change echoed that disappointment. “Today’s decision to delay the charter amendment has left the people of Minneapolis severely disappointed.
“After months of protests against racist police violence, local and national demands to rein in the city’s police force, and weeks of public testimony from elected officials and community members, the unelected and unaccountable Minneapolis Charter Commission has chosen to delay a measure to reimagine the city’s broken policing system.”
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But not everyone expressed displeasure in the Commission’s delayed vote. Prominent activist and civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong applauded the decision on Facebook.
“This is welcome news,” said Levy Armstong about the Commission’s delayed vote. “City Council also failed to engage the Black community to obtain our input, given the disproportionate rates of police violence and community violence we experience.
“Since the Council’s appearance in Powderhorn Park in June announcing plans to dismantle MPD, there have been more than 100 shootings in the city and at least three Council members have requested private security on the City’s dime. We are a city in crisis and the last thing that we need is to be placed in a worse position by those who we elected to serve us.”
Mayor Jacob Frey, who has stated his opposition to abolishing the police and has criticized the city council for the lack clarity in its plans, said in a statement, “I look forward to working with Chief Arradondo, my council colleagues, and community to transform the culture of policing in our city in the months ahead. Now it is on all of us to roll up our sleeves and dig into this work together.”
The earliest voters could see the amendment on a ballot is November 2021.
Updated 8/10/2020: Edited to provide more context for poll cited.