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Minneapolis city council abandons its push to defund the police

In June:

Nine members of the Minneapolis City Council announced their support for de-funding the Minneapolis Police Department and replacing it with a community-based public safety model at a rally in Powderhorn Park Sunday afternoon. 

The council members were explicit that this meant ending the Minneapolis police department:

[Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender] went on to say she and the eight other councilmembers that joined the rally are committed to ending the city’s relationship with the police force and “to end policing as we know it and recreate systems that actually keep us safe.”

Councilmember Ellison said frankly, “This council is going to dismantle this police department.” 

Similarly, Councilmember Cano said the council would “abolish the Minneapolis Police system as we know it.” 

What would they replace it with?

The group also announced its intention to engage every willing community member to ask what safety means to them and create a “new transformative model for cultivating safety.”

If this sounded a little vague, council member Philippe Cunningham explained:

“We have a paradigm for safety that is rooted in community and justice. We have seen it the last two weeks”

What we had seen in those two weeks – and which was, apparently, the essence of the “new transformative model for cultivating safety” – was armed self defense by members of the public.

I was always skeptical of how long the Minneapolis DFL would embrace the Paul Kersey plan for law and order. This week came confirmation that they have moved on. The Star Tribune reports:

The Minneapolis City Council’s resolve to end the city’s police department has lost momentum, the result of the failure to get the question before voters in November and council members’ diverging ideas on the role of sworn officers in the future.

It is also, no doubt, a reaction to the spike in violence which is rocking the city at present.

But the MPD could face a death by a thousand cuts. Budget cuts have effectively ended a cadet program that gets more people of color serving in law enforcement and the city’s navigator program, which Chief Medaria Arradondo established two years ago to address issues like homelessness, joblessness, substance abuse, and domestic abuse. This has not been well received by some. In a discussion Tuesday night at a church in the Kingfield neighborhood which WCCO describes as “heated”:

A community policing team that formed in Minneapolis almost 20 years ago called local leaders Tuesday to restore safety in the city.

One of the main ideas behind the defund the police movement is that trained professionals should be addressing deeply rooted issues within the city. This team agrees that more help is needed, but they believe that those professionals should work alongside the police — not instead of them.

“As a pastor, I learned that on day one,” said Pastor Ian Bethel, who was at Tuesday’s meeting in south Minneapolis. “I don’t show up for no domestic stuff, I call the police and let the police go along with me.”

Minneapolitans might have won a reprieve from the city council’s lunatic ideas, but they will need to remain their guard.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment. 

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