In their boldest statement since George Floyd’s killing, nine Minneapolis City Council members told a crowd Sunday that they will “begin the process of ending the Minneapolis Police Department.”
“We recognize that we don’t have all the answers about what a police-free future looks like, but our community does,” they said, reading off a prepared statement. “We’re committed to engaging with every willing community member in the City of Minneapolis over the next year to identify what safety looks like for you.”
Their words — delivered one day after Mayor Jacob Frey told a crowd of protesters he does not support the full abolishment of the MPD — set off what is likely to be a long, complicated debate about the future of the state’s largest police force.
With the world watching, and the city’s leaders up for re-election next year, the stakes are particularly high. While Minneapolis has debated the issue in the past, Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police has added a sense of urgency, and the calls for police departments to be disbanded have echoed in other cities around the country.
Council members have noted repeatedly since Floyd’s death that Minneapolis has the chance to redefine policing. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, nine of them walked onto a stage at Powderhorn Park to support members of advocacy group Black Visions, who were calling for the end of the MPD. On stage were Council President Lisa Bender, Vice President Andrea Jenkins and Council Members Alondra Cano, Phillippe Cunningham, Jeremiah Ellison, Steve Fletcher, Cam Gordon, Andrew Johnson and Jeremy Schroeder.