Proposed council amendment gets a thumbs-down from activists
A Minneapolis City Council committee voted on Wednesday, Nov. 30 to recommend an ordinance to amend Title 9, Chapter 172 of the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances, which covers police conduct oversight. The amendment would make changes to, but ultimately preserve, the Office of Police Conduct Review (OPCR).
The city council committee’s 3-2 vote follows criticism from activists. On Monday, Nov. 28, the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar (TCC4J) held a press conference at City Hall to oppose the council’s measure.
“Minneapolis residents are tired of toothless work groups, panels, and community review boards with little to no power to stop or prevent police violence,” TCC4J’s press release stated. “We deserve better than a commission with unclear structure that is staffed by law enforcement and unelected yes-men chosen by the mayor’s office.
“Ultimately, this is a way for the city council to pretend to do something about police brutality without actual accountability of the police.”
Jae Yates, an organizer with TCC4J, said he believes all communities deserve self-determination in how police accountability is handled. TCC4J wants to pass an amendment to the city charter that would create a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), with council members being directly elected.
“Currently, the only real police oversight that we have is the OPCR, and they routinely refuse to actually conduct investigations, and all the people that run it are cops,” Yates said. “To us that represents a huge conflict of interest.”
“With the CPAC, if the chief of police decides that he doesn’t want to discipline a certain officer or if he disagrees with the finding of fact that [CPAC] has done,” Yates continued, “there is a process to essentially go around the police chief and start to get the mayor’s office involved, start to get city council involved.”
Michelle Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB), called the flaws of the Title 9 amendment proposal “glaringly obvious.”
“The Community Commission on Police Oversight proposal being presented does not change anything about the underlying Office of Police Conduct Review structure,” a CUAPB press release stated. “The only thing that will change is that the hearing panel pool will include more people, and those same people will hold occasional meetings the community can attend. The current process that leads to an extremely small percentage of sustained complaints will remain the same.”
CUAPB advocates for a complete dismantling of the Office of Police Conduct Review in favor of creating an independent agency that does not include Minneapolis staff or police officers. CUAPB also wants complaints to be received by the independent agency rather than through MPD, saying filing complaints at precinct headquarters lacks accountability and can be intimidating for complainants.
Ward 2 Councilmember Robin Wonsley held an online public meeting Monday evening regarding the Title 9 amendment, with the majority of public comments being negative, saying the city council should go further than the proposed amendment. Wonsley and Councilmember Elliott Payne voted no on the measure. A full city council vote is set for Dec. 8.
Yates said TCC4J has 6,000 of the 8,900 signatures required to bring the CPAC proposal to Minneapolis ballots in 2023. He said he is “quite confident” they will be able to collect the remaining signatures in time.
Cole Miska is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.