In response to protests and riots that left sections of the city in flames, the progressive leadership of Minneapolis has taken steps to defund the police department and replace it with a “transformative new model for cultivating safety” in the city. But some influential voices from the black community in the city are pushing back hard on how the city council is driving forward with their “absurd” and “egregious” dismantlement plan.
On June 12, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a “community-led public safety system” that will involve “healers, elders, youth, artists, and organizers,” who will “lead deep community engagement on race and public safety” and will offer “transformative justice in partnerships informed by the needs of every block in our city.”
Last Friday, the city council voted unanimously in approval of an amendment that would eliminate the city’s charter requirement to fund a police department, replacing it with their new “Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention,” which would be managed by the council and headed up by a “non-law enforcement experience in community safety services, including but not limited to public health and/or restorative justice approaches.” The council also voted to remove the minimum number of officers required for their “transformative new model for cultivating safety.” The moves will allow the issue to be put to voters in November.
But, as reported by the Star Tribune, several leaders in the black community are incensed by how the Democrat-controlled city council has proceeded with its “defund the police” plan (h/t Ed Morrissey).
“Egregious, grotesque, absurd, crazy, ridiculous. These are a handful of the words that some local African American leaders are using to rebuke the Minneapolis City Council’s moves toward dismantling the Police Department, even as they demand an overhaul of law enforcement,” the Tribune reported Thursday. “While the movement to defund the police has been driven by Black activists, others say that city politicians rushed the process and failed to include a police chief who has the backing of many Black residents.”
One of the black leaders, the former president of the NAACP Minneapolis, accused the city council of showing “a complete disregard for the voices and perspectives of many members of the African American community.”
“We have not been consulted as the city makes its decisions, even though our community is the one most heavily impacted by both police violence and community violence,” said former NAACP leader Nekima Levy Armstrong, as reported by the Tribune. Armstrong went on to accuse the council of “seizing upon the national spotlight to look as if they’re making a difference.”
Pastor Brian Herron leveled a similar accusation, saying the council was simply “pandering,” according to the Tribune.
Of particular concern is the city council’s mandate that a person with “non-law enforcement experience” must head up its new public safety department, as the current chief of police is African American.
“Why now, when you have an African American chief who is highly regarded and trusted in the Black community?” Urban League Twin Cities CEO Steven Belton asked. “This strikes me as being passive-aggressive Minnesota Nice on steroids. This is a hit on Chief Arradondo.”
Council Member Jeremiah Ellison defended the council’s actions and appeared to try to downplay the significance of the black leaders voicing complaints, saying, “The Black community is not a monolith, and just because there’s someone that might have a high profile doesn’t meant that they necessarily speak on behalf of the Black community of Minneapolis.”
Related: De Blasio Calls NYC City Hall Protests ‘Vile’ But Won’t Break Up ‘Autonomous Zone’
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