Minneapolis Charter Commission Puts Police Changes On Hold
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
The effort to dismantle or defund the Minneapolis Police Department is on hold. Last night, the city's charter commission voted to delay the move to replace the MPD with a new agency. Protesters and activists have been pushing for change since police officers killed George Floyd in May. As Minnesota Public Radio's Brandt Williams reports, today there's been a mixed reaction to the city's decision.
BRANDT WILLIAMS, BYLINE: The public debate over the city council's attempt to overhaul public safety has split opinions into camps that aren't necessarily mutually exclusive - at least that's how Minneapolis NAACP President Leslie Redmond sees it. Redmond does not support the effort to abolish the police, but she does want to see the department change how it treats Black people.
LESLIE REDMOND: What we're talking about is trying to reduce harm in our community to, at some point, transform our community so that we can actually be a living, thriving people.
WILLIAMS: And Redmond says that's not something that can be accomplished by changing the city's charter, which is like a constitution for the city.
REDMOND: This is about dismantling white supremacy. And none of the options that are being put on the table is going to do that.
WILLIAMS: She and some other Black leaders are putting their support behind the city's first Black police chief, Medaria Arradondo, but they fear the move to defund and dismantle the department will deny him that opportunity. Voters would have had the chance to make a decision had the charter commission not delayed their vote on it last night.
LEX HORAN: We know that this is an issue where there's a lot of disagreement in our city.
WILLIAMS: Organizer Lex Horan says the people of Minneapolis deserve the chance to vote on the future of the police department. He's a member of a local group called Reclaim the Block that has been calling for the MPD to be defunded even before police officers killed George Floyd. The group says it doesn't believe the department can be reformed. And Horan and others fear that police officers will continue to harm Black, Indigenous and people of color until the department is replaced with a new public safety entity. That's why he hoped it would be on the ballot this fall.
HORAN: We are ready to have difficult conversations in every neighborhood to talk with folks about this proposed amendment so that people could really make an educated choice at the ballot box in November.
WILLIAMS: Minneapolis City Council members have said they will try to get the ballot measure in front of voters next year. Council members say they'll use the 2021 budget process to enact smaller changes, including shifting money from the police budget to crime prevention and intervention programs which don't involve law enforcement officers.
For NPR News, I'm Brandt Williams in Minneapolis.
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