More than 40 community organizations and businesses are pushing the Minneapolis City Council to pursue major cuts to the city’s police department to fund other public safety and health initiatives.
The “People’s Budget,” created by the organizations Reclaim the Block and Black Visions Collective, proposes more than $53 million in cuts to the Minneapolis Police Department. On Tuesday, 44 local organizations and businesses endorsed the plan.
The cuts to MPD include eliminating items from Mayor Jacob Frey’s proposed budget such as police horses and K-9 officers, crime prevention specialists and the training and hiring of new officers.
The People’s Budget would instead use money from MPD’s budget to fund mobile mental health response teams, housing and eviction prevention, childcare and other programs.
The groups have called for serious action to be taken to improve policing in the city in the wake of George Floyd's death in May, for which four former officers have been charged and are awaiting trial for murder and aiding and abetting murder.
“We’re calling on the city to listen to the dozens of organizations that have spoken up for this vision and amend Frey’s budget based on the People’s Budget,” said Hani Ali of Black Visions in a statement.
“And we’re calling on the city to continue to expand who gets a say in creating the budget: we need real participatory budgeting to build the city our community needs to thrive.”
The proposal comes as three City Council members have proposed an amendment that would cut almost $8 million from Mayor Jacob Frey's proposed $179 million police budget to fund a mental health crisis team and other non-law enforcement violence prevention.
The “Safety for All” plan was proposed Friday by Council Members Steve Fletcher, Philippe Cunningham and Council President Lisa Bender.
The proposal was quick to receive pushback from Frey, who called it “irresponsible” and "untenable," according to MPR. The proposal would decrease the authorized size of the police force from 888 to 750 in coming years.
Frey’s proposed police budget includes three recruitment classes of officers and $5 million in overtime while those officers are being trained. Frey has said these provisions will help offset officer attrition following the death of George Floyd and the subsequent civil unrest.
Since Floyd's death, Minneapolis has seen a significant increase in homicides and violent crime, with Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo calling for increased funding as a result.
Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block expressed support for some aspects of the Safety for All plan, including the mental health response team, but said it did not go far enough. The two organizations also raised concerns about the Safety for All plan’s proposal to preserve funding for new police recruit classes.
“This proposal is the bare minimum that council members should support after MPD murdered George Floyd and our city rose up,” said Zola Richardson of Reclaim the Block in a statement.
“We appreciate the work of these council members who have pressed for change instead of doubling down on investment into the failed strategy of policing exemplified by the Minneapolis Police Department.”
The council's second budget hearing will be held on Wednesday, while final amendments and eventual passage are set for later this month.