Minneapolis rejects ‘Defund the police,’ no thanks to Gov. Walz and Sens. Klobuchar and Smith

On Election Day 2021, the voters of Minneapolis rejected a proposed charter amendment which would have eliminated the city’s police department and replaced it with a public safety agency.

Fox 9 reports:

Fifty-seven percent of voters voted “no” versus 43 percent for “yes” on the ballot question, which asked if the city charter should be amended to remove the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a Department of Public Safety. The proposed charter amendment would have eliminated the minimum police staffing requirement as well as the position of police chief.

Minneapolitians can breathe a sigh of relief. With violent crimes up 24 percent so far this year over an average of the same period for 2015 to 2019 and homicides up a staggering 124 percent, this is no time to turn the city in a laboratory experiment testing ludicrous ‘public safety’ polices.

Indeed, violent crime is one of the most pressing crises facing the state at the moment, especially the Twin Cities. Department of Health data shows that four Minnesotans aged 19 and under have died with COVID-19 since March 2020. Since January this year, however, there have been at least 15 homicide victims aged 19 and under in Minneapolis alone, two of whom were under 10.*

Given the fact that violent crime is a far greater threat to Minnesota’s youth than COVID-19, you might have expected the state’s leaders to confront the issue. Not a bit of it. As the Star Tribune reported at the weekend:

Three of Minnesota’s leading Democrats oppose the Minneapolis ballot question that could replace the city’s Police Department with a new public safety agency, but they aren’t campaigning against it.

…With polls closing Tuesday, U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith and Gov. Tim Walz have made their opposition clear but appear to be staying away from actively campaigning to defeat the measure.

The ballot question is a complicated one for Democratic politicians, said Kathryn Pearson, a University of Minnesota political science professor. It’s a rare local measure that has attracted statewide and national attention.

“They would just as soon not get involved in Minneapolis politics and be out front on an issue that’s, no matter what position they take, guaranteed to upset some of their supporters,” Pearson said. “If they were to be actively campaigning, it would also really highlight the divide within the Democratic Party.”

This gets to the heart of it. Polling and now the results show that while blacks in Minneapolis were opposed to the amendment, it was popular with the DFL’s young, white, liberal base. To put it bluntly, Gov. Tim Walz and Sens. Klobuchar and Smith lack the political courage to take on their party’s base, even when black lives are at disproportionate risk. While Attorney General Keith Ellison and Rep. Ilhan Omar campaigned in favor of the amendment, Walz, Klobuchar and Smith sat on the sidelines when the city needed them.

This cowardice can have more directly harmful results. In response to recent shootings in St. Paul, Mayor Melvin Carter has pushed the same old gun control policies, targeting legally held firearms. These will do absolutely nothing to tackle the vast majority of gun crime which is carried out with illegally held weapons, but at least it won’t upset his base.

This lack of courage from city and state leader— especially Walz — cost the Twin Cities dearly during last year’s riots. The Cities, and the state as whole, deserve more backbone from their leaders.

*Their names are: Mushab Mohamud Ali, 18; Kohlin Louis Fohrenkam-Differenthorse, 14; Aries Trayvon Hubbard, 17; Jaden M. Blackmon, 15; Keshaun James Leuzzo-Mapp, 19; Iaan James Wade, 19; George Frances Zeon, 19; Trinity Rayne Ottoson-Smith, 9; Aniya Allen, 6; Edwin Lydell Vaughn Jr, 19; Nicholas Steven Wayne Enger, 17; Anthony Joseph Rouse, 15; Varney G Kennedy Jr, 16; London Michael Bean, 12; and Jaylen Terell Salter, 19.