This Minneapolis citizen wants to break away from police

Image copyright AFP Despite years of intensive research, the quality of policing in Minneapolis has remained poor. An independent body, the Office of the Police Conduct Review, has seen fewer than 50% of misconduct…

This Minneapolis citizen wants to break away from police

Image copyright AFP

Despite years of intensive research, the quality of policing in Minneapolis has remained poor.

An independent body, the Office of the Police Conduct Review, has seen fewer than 50% of misconduct complaints against police upheld over the past 20 years.

In response, a resident-led citizens group called Minneapolis for Police Reform wants to replace the Minneapolis Police Department.

The group is in the process of gathering signatures and proposing an ordinance for a vote in November’s municipal election.

However, a written statement to the BBC from Minneapolis for Police Reform’s executive director, John Thompson, said the proposed replacement scheme and all amendments to the draft ordinance still contained “weeks of hidden errors and sweeping philosophical and policy changes”.

The signatories of the statement include prominent local figures like St Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, Minneapolis Community Activist, Alex Burgdorf, and, most dramatically, hip-hop artist, Prince.

‘We already had a deal’

The disappointment many of the signatories feel stems from the fact that they thought they had a deal.

On 11 June, the People’s Assembly, a liberal social group which led the process, said that all options were still on the table.

The resolution passed that day also said that if, in the weeks after the public consultation period, no option was acceptable, then the assembly would “close the option down and push for an end to the PDM programme”.

Image copyright ABC News Image caption Mayor Melvin Carter said: ‘This is not simply an option for us to examine.’

“Our leadership concluded that the option of outbidding the current police department and contracting with the state for police services no longer represented an acceptable alternative. It included cost structures, structure and methods that this group would not favour,” the mayor said.

However, the People’s Assembly representatives have not backed down.

“The People’s Assembly recognises the concerns of the elected officials, and wishes to clarify that no options were eliminated,” said the resolution.

Mark Aaronson is a Seattle civic affairs expert who spoke at the Minneapolis for Police Reform meeting when the public consultation period began, describing the scheme as a “replacement programme for a failing municipal police force”.

“We know there is no criminal justice system of standards and integrity for the police department.

“The crime rates go up and people get killed in the force and we see what we expect a police force to be – we don’t see an effective police force.

“This is more of the same kind of group being led by Minneapolis for Police Reform that will lead us to a much-deserved downfall and decline in our quality of life.”

When asked if the People’s Assembly was planning to intervene, Mr Thompson said: “It would be irresponsible for any civic group to tie their hands and put their arm around the PDM to prevent them from addressing the issues.

“We have people who signed our petition who have an obvious stake in ensuring their issues are addressed. Now we have people who have an obvious stake in their fears not being addressed.

“We think there’s a wide range of political players involved that are not in favour of the proposition.

“We got 60 delegates to the meeting. Ten of them were signed up to sit on the executive committee.

“I think they are acting as a jack-in-the-box, banging the back of the lid until no one can escape.”

So is there hope for Minneapolis for Police Reform yet?

“It’s going to be extremely difficult to get the ordinance through,” said Mr Aaronson.

“The problems in this whole process are going to be so deep, complicated and deep in the constitution that it’s going to be very hard to find a way to show there is a credible, alternative to this that isn’t a new democratic black hole up here.”

Leave a Comment