A group of Minneapolis City Council members have announced their intentions to proceed with disbanding the city's police force.
Council president Lisa Bender made the announcement at a Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block rally at Powderhorn Park Sunday, just blocks from where George Floyd lost his life at the hands of police on May 25.
Bender says that the plan is to "end our city’s toxic relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department."
"It's our commitment to end policing as we know it, and recreate systems of public safety that actually keep us safe," she said.
This weekend, an op-ed from Ward 3 councilor Steve Fletcher proposed some situations in which alternatives to police officers will be used, such as by dispatching mental health professionals to mental health crisis calls, and fire department EMTs to opioid overdose calls. Traffic offenses meanwhile could be handled by an increase in camera coverage, or the city's street parking teams.
Details are limited given it's at the start of a wider dismantling process, including with regards as to who would provide the primary law enforcement. It's possible that the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office could play a role, given Minneapolis is in its jurisdiction.
While calls to dismantle the police department have been resisted by Mayor Jacob Frey, who instead is calling for wider reforms, the council appears to have 9 out of 12 votes needed to pass a veto-proof proposal.
In attendance at the rally were council members Bender, Andrea Jenkins, Phillipe Cunningham, Steve Fletcher, Alondra Cano, Andrew Johnson, Jeremy Schroeder, Jeremiah Ellison, and Cam Gordon.
"We are also here because, here in Minneapolis and in cities across the United States, it is clear that our existing system of policing and public safety isn’t working for so many of our neighbors," Bender said. "Our efforts at incremental reform have failed. Period."
Bender says that the council will start a conversation with its residents about what a new, "community-led" system will look like.
"We don't have all the answers for what that future looks like but the community does," said Ward 5 councilor Jeremiah Ellison.
The council members who were not at the rally were Ward 1's Kevin Reich, Ward 7's Lisa Goodman, and Ward 13's Linea Palmisano.
Ward 6 is currently vacant and the subject of a special election in August, which follows former member Abdi Warsame becoming head of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority.