City charter amendment would replace it with a Department of Public Safety and Violence Prevention
Black Visions and Reclaim the Block have led efforts to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with community-based public safety measures. Here’s what their organizers say you need to know about next steps and how to stay engaged.
The Minneapolis City Charter — the city’s Constitution — requires Minneapolis to have a police department and a minimum number of officers based on the city’s population. A charter amendment is needed as a first step in transitioning to a new model of community safety.
Charter amendments require a multi-step process. First, the Minneapolis City Council has to vote to refer a Charter amendment to the Minneapolis Charter Commission. That part is done. The proposed amendment would eliminate the Minneapolis Police Department and create a new Department of Public Safety and Violence Prevention.
The Charter Commission now needs to decide whether to put the issue to a city-wide vote. If it approves the amendment, city voters will get the final say on this fall’s ballot.
Black Visions and Reclaim the Block are hosting an informational phone call on Monday, July 6, at 2 p.m. Central Time. You can register here.
Here are Charter amendment basics, according to organizers.
If approved by voters in November, the charter amendment WOULD NOT:
- Immediately dismantle or eliminate the Minneapolis Police Department
- End the community engagement process around effective community safety
If approved by voters in November, the charter amendment WOULD:
- Remove the Minneapolis Police Department as a “required” city department and make police optional
- Remove the requirement that the city have a minimum number of police officers based on population, allowing the city to begin scaling down police
- Establish a new Department of Public Safety and Violence Prevention that uses proven community safety strategies and is shaped by community. Any police that continue to exist would be under the control of this new civilian department.
Even if the amendment is approved, the transition to the new department wouldn’t happen right away. The City Council would have a community engagement process to shape it, running to August 2021.
Here are ways organizers say you can get involved:
1) Submit a public comment! Tell the Charter Commission justice cannot wait for another year: let the people decide how to create safety in our communities! Some talking points you could use:
- We don’t want a brutal, unaccountable police department protected in our city charter! Eliminate MPD and create a new civilian-run Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.
- We don’t want more police in our communities! Remove the Charter requirement for the minimum # of police!
- We deserve to be a part of the process, and justice cannot wait another year! Letting the people of Minneapolis vote on the charter respects our democratic right to determine the kind of city we want.
2) Make your voice heard at the virtual public hearing on July 15th, 5pm. We need to show the Charter commission that we’re watching them, and we demand justice!
- You will have the opportunity to speak live to the Commission during these hearings! Share your own brief statement about why you support this amendment, or use the talking points above.
3) Tell us what you want safety to look like in your community:
- Register for our community call on Monday, July 6, at 2p.m.
- Fill out this survey about what safety means to you
4) If you’re short on time, here’s a quick petition to the Charter Commission. Sign and share!
In a related matter, Minneapolis faces a significant revenue shortfall in its current 2020 budget as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It needs make cuts to its $1.5 billion budget. The Minneapolis Police Department will be one of the Departments facing potential cuts. Here are the dates for the upcoming hearings. You can watch or participate in the online meetings. They are:
- July 14, 6:05 p.m. – First public hearing for the Amended 2020 City Budget
- July 22, 10 a.m. – Second public hearing for the Amended 2020 City Budget
- July 24, 9:30 a.m. – Final budget markup and adoption
In other news:
- MPR: ‘The precinct is on fire’: What happened at Minneapolis’ 3rd Precinct — and what it means, an extended review of events following George Floyd’s murder.
- RSN, Reader Supported News: Law Enforcement Scoured Protester Communications and Exaggerated Threats to Minneapolis Cops, Leaked Documents Show. “The documents show that law enforcement leadership warned of potential threats from antifa and “black racially motivated violent extremists,” as well as vaguely described social media users. Federal and local agencies collected intelligence drawn from private online messaging groups and Slack channels, according to the documents. The agencies also tracked Facebook RSVPs to peaceful protest events, including a suburban candlelight vigil.”