Ways to engage in dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department

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. Continue reading

Religious institutions speak out on George Floyd’s murder, repent for past complicity, call for change

Police protect the Third Precinct. (file)

The President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said most police officers “carry out their duties with honor”

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the anger over long-standing problems with police brutality has boiled over to the streets. It’s put the question of the police’s role in society squarely on the front burner. Some are pushing to abolish the police altogether.

In this deeply moral moment, religious communities are weighing in, issuing statements on Floyd’s murder.

Faith communities have played an important role in civil rights movements. Their voices could be powerful in pushing for greater police accountability. This blog will follow how they engage in this important work in the coming months.

What follows is a summary of some of the initial statements on Floyd’s murder, including links and short excerpts. For those of you who are part of one of these faith communities, this is an opportunity to push them to follow through on their commitments and then some.

This list is based on an Internet search and may not be complete. Please post links to statements we missed in the comment section below.

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Police reform, police abolition, and barriers to police accountability: An overview

There’s an ongoing gathering at the flower-strewn site where George Floyd was killed.

A veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council has committed to dismantle and defund the Minneapolis Police Department, according to stories in MPR, the Star Tribune, CNN and other news outlets.

In New York City, Mayor Bill DeBlasio is proposing to shift some police funding to social services, with the idea that such funding will do more to promote public safety than funding the tradition police force. Congressional Democrats have proposed the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 which “would ban chokeholds, establish a national database to track police misconduct and prohibit certain no-knock warrants, among other initiatives,” the Washington Post reports.

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Minneapolis police union losing public support, MN unions press police union president to resign

The Minneapolis Police Department has become a toxic brand, and rightfully so.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the Minneapolis Public Schools, the University of Minnesota, the Walker Art Center and other organizations have cut ties with the Minneapolis Police Department following George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. (Floyd had allegedly tried to pass a fake $20 bill, a nonviolent crime.)

Key unions around the state are calling on Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Association of Minneapolis, to resign over his handling of Floyd’s murder, his history of inflammatory statements, and his antagonism towards communities of color. Continue reading

MN Council of Churches CEO calls for the arrest and prosecution of Minneapolis officers involved in killing George Floyd

Many organizations have released statements of grief, sadness and calls for justice in response to George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police. The following comes from Rev. Curtiss DeYoung, CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches.

(Full disclosure, Healing Minnesota Stories is an initiative of the Minnesota Council of Churches.)

Under the heading: “How long, O Lord,” DeYoung calls on faith leaders to press for systemic changes in policing in Minnesota. He calls faith leaders to push for the arrest and prosecution of the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck until he died, and the arrest and prosecution of the three officers who stood nearby and failed to come to George’s aid. Continue reading

The protests and anger are about George Floyd and so much more

A heavy police line barricaded East Lake Street at 27th Ave. S. near the Third Precinct headquarters.

The unfolding protests against the Minneapolis Police Department over the death of George Floyd aren’t about the actions of one rogue cop but about a department culture where it seems officers are unable to challenge a peer when that peer’s actions clearly violate police procedure and basic human decency.

As I write this blog, the unrest is getting worse. Police are using tear gas and rubber bullets. Some protestors are throwing things at police. Some were even vandalizing local businesses. I’m sure that conflict will draw most of the media coverage. The focus in this blog will be on the roots of community anger.

Floyd was on the ground in handcuffs while Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck. Floyd cried for help. None of the other three officers on the scene did anything to intervene. By the time Floyd was moved to the ambulance, he was “unresponsive and without a pulse,” the Star Tribune reports. The three officers’ disturbing indifference and silence to Floyd’s pleas speak volumes to many in the community who already mistrust the police.

And while Floyd’s death is the latest flash point between Minneapolis police and the community, these protests are about a whole lot more. Continue reading

Black man dies during police arrest in Minneapolis: Protest today, 5 p.m., 38th and Chicago

A black man suspected of forgery died during an arrest Monday at East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis Monday.

The man was on the ground, on his stomach, hands handcuffed behind his back, wedged against the tire of the patrol car, with a police officer kneeling on his neck, according to the blog News Day. “I can’t breath,” the man told police.

The Minneapolis Police said the man, thought to be in his 40s, resisted arrest. They are referring to the man’s death as a “medical incident.”

There’s a protest scheduled at 5 p.m. today at 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis. People are asked to wear masks. Organizers plan to chalk off 6-foot spacing marks for social distancing.

[Update: The city of Minneapolis has fired four officers involved in this incident. Star Tribune story here. Washington Post story here.]

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