- The City Council on Friday unanimously voted to advance the proposed charter amendment as a ballot measure.
- "I am absolutely supportive of our residents having the opportunity to weigh in on this significant change to our charter."
- This was the first step towards abolishing the police department.
The Minneapolis City Council has begun the process of replacing the police force, a move that was triggered by the horrible death of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis officers. The proposed charter aims at replacing the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.
The public comment period has now been opened. The City Council on Friday unanimously voted to advance the proposed charter amendment as a ballot measure. The amendment will be voted on in November.
“I am absolutely supportive of our residents having the opportunity to weigh in on this significant change to our charter,” said council Vice President Andrea Jenkins on Friday. “We can change the name of the public safety, we can change the makeup, but until we address racism nothing is going to change.”
This was the first step towards abolishing the police department. The Minneapolis City Council has rallied for the dismantling of the police department since anti-racism protests broke out in the country following the death of George Floyd.
Floyd, an African American man died on May 25 after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty six seconds. Floyd was buried earlier this month in Houston, amid calls for racial justice from speakers.
In a horrifying video, Chauvin pinned Floyd down with his knee as he lay on the ground during an arrest. The video footage was taken by a witness and was sent on social media. It showed Floyd helpless, asking the police not to kill him. Floyd said several times, “I can’t breathe!”
The officer is then heard telling him to relax he continues to pin him down. “My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts,” Floyd cries out. “[I need] water or something. Please. Please. I can’t breathe, officer. . . I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe.” In the footage witnesses are heard pleading with the police to let go the man but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
The four officers were fired after a video of Floyd’s death at their hands went viral. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo had said Chauvin knew what he was doing, and the other officers failed to prevent the killing
The death of Floyd has sparked outrage from all quarters, and ignited anger over police killings of black Americans. Widespread anti-racism protests were witnessed in all US states and around the world. The protests were violent in the beginning, but later on turned peaceful.
A number of police officers have used a lot of force during the widespread protests against the murder of Floyd. Some of these officers have been fired, while others have been charged. The demonstrators were calling for justice for Floyd, as well as police reforms where they advocated for disbandment and dismantling of the police force.
Meanwhile, Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo has pledged to reform his police department a month after the death of Floyd. The police chief and Mayor Jacob Frey said that they have begun pushing for policy changes and new rules, particularly regarding police investigations.
One such rule is aimed at preventing officers involved in the use of force from reviewing body camera footage before the initial police report is completed. “The policies also restrict consultation with certain representatives immediately following a critical incident and clarify time requirements for reporting.” the police chief said.
Mayor Frey, who is opposed to the call to abolish the police, said the policy will ensure transparency.
Floyd’s death also caused the Democrats and Republicans to clash on police reforms, with the latter not agreeing with the calls. A few days ago, the House of Representatives passed far-reaching legislation on police reforms, a month after Floyd’s death.
The legislation is aimed at lifting legal obstacles that protect police officers from lawsuits, banning no-knock raids used by police, and halting the flow of military surplus equipment to police departments. It is named after Floyd.
The legislation took into consideration the demands of protesters across the country, who have called for police reforms following the deaths of black people at the hands of police officers. The bill will have a hard time passing through the next stage— the Republican-controlled Senate— unless the Democrats and Republicans set aside their differences.
The legislation is backed by the civil rights activists, but opposed by police unions and President Donald Trump. The president said that the Democrats are working towards weakening the police force.