Tuesday’s election in Minneapolis offers an opportunity to do something to address the police murder of George Floyd and the decades and decades of police racism, brutality, and abuse in our city. Your union, CWA 7250, held three open forums to discuss the police and policing in Minneapolis.
We discussed our own experiences as working-class people with the police. We discussed the history and purpose of the rise of police forces in this country. And we discussed what a different kind of community-focused, accountable, safety, and community defense system would look like.
After these discussions, our Local Union’s Executive Board voted overwhelmingly to endorse the city charter amendment to replace the MPD with a new Department of Public Safety. Our members voted by a wide margin to ratify this decision at the next Membership meeting in September. Please VOTE YES on 2 in Minneapolis!
The Minneapolis Police Department is beyond repair. There have been too many incidents of murder and abuse. Those of us who have lived here many years remember the names of Tycel Nelson (17 years old), Lloyd Smalley (71), Lillian Weiss (65), Fong Lee (19), Terrance Franklin (22), Jamar Clark (24), and of course George Floyd (46).
We also remember the MPD putting homeless Native American men in their squad car’s trunk; the MPD ordering the date rape drug ketamine administered to detainees without their permission; and the 1700 rape kits that the MPD “lost”.
For myself who was born and grew up in the city, I know that many of my friends—especially my Black friends—experienced regular harassment by the police. Many of my friends know too well the MPD tradition of being “taken down to the river” or “taken down to the tracks.” I was brutally beaten up in the back of a police van at a protest when I was 17.
Going back further in our history, the MPD was used as a weapon against the Labor Movement. In 1934, the police opened fire on striking Teamsters killing two picketers and wounding 65 others.
The MPD has proven immune from reform—over the years many attempts have been made to rein in the cops and hold the police accountable. All of those efforts have failed. The YES on 2 Campaign seeks to address the crisis in our city by replacing the MPD with a Department of Public Safety—that will include public safety officers. If 911 calls need a mental health expert or domestic violence specialist this department will be able to respond without the increased risk of tragic endings.
CWA 7250 joined with other unions and community groups like the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, SEIU Local 26, AFSCME Local 3800, HERE Local 17, Jewish Community Action, and the Barbershop and Black Congregation Cooperative.
For more information visit yes4minneapolis.org/the-plan.
Kieran Knutson, CWA 7250 president