Each day we are experiencing history take place right before our eyes. According to Fox 9, It has been announced that nine members of the Minneapolis City Council have pledged to defund the police department following the death of George Floyd. This pledge by the council is designed to open the conversation in regards to public safety reform, as previous methods didn’t accomplish protecting the safety of all citizens.
What does defunding the police department do for our communities?
Minneapolis is one of the first major cities to make this pledge so it will take time and a lot of planning to work out the logistics. The intent is to reinvest part of the $200 million police budget back into community programs, mental health services, and public housing. City Council member Jeremiah Ellison stated, “That doesn’t mean the end of safety. That doesn’t mean we’re going to hit the eject button without a plan, but plans have to start somewhere.”
This pledge came with mixed feelings from city residents, one of them being Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. “I’ll work relentlessly with Chief Arradondo and alongside community toward deep, structural reform and addressing systemic racism in police culture. And we’re ready to dig in and enact more community-led public safety strategies on behalf of our city. But I do not support abolishing the Minneapolis Police Department,” said Frey. As mayor he does recondite the problems their city has with public safety but not agree with the council’s efforts. The council has stated regardless of public support, they will push forward.
On Sunday June 7, Minneapolis council highlighted that they are not advocating for lawlessness but for structural reform. During a rally in Powderhorn Park, the council expressed their plans to dismantle the whole system and rebuilding from the ground up. With the support of nine council members (out of 12), they have created a veto-proof support system in disbanding the police department. To make significant changes to the department, they will likely need a public vote to change the charter.
To give you some perspective, Ron Serpas spent 30 years in law enforcement as police chief in New Orleans and Nashville, Tennessee, and Washington. Serpas stated, “About 90% of all the police department calls that I’ve looked at in my life have nothing to do with a major Uniform Crime. They have nothing to do with rape, murder, robbery, burglary, assault, theft, auto theft — nothing.” Part of the reform is figuring out whose job it should be to take those calls that fall in those categories. This is where council is hoping social workers or civilians can step in to help keep their community safe.
Will this be beneficial to the racial injustice that is happening in America?
Due to the wide spectrum of social issues, it depends on how you ask. As a society we should continue to progress and want to make change. Depending on how this goes, it is likely that other cities will follow this plan of action. Now more than every the conversation between citizens and Government officials need to be united in hope for the greater good.