Minneapolis City Council Members Announce Intent To 'Dismantle' Police Department : Live Updates: Protests For Racial Justice Nine of the 13 council members, a veto-proof majority, pledged to "rebuild with our community a new model of public safety that actually keeps our community safe," in the words of one council member.
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Minneapolis City Council Members Announce Intent To 'Dismantle' Police Department

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Minneapolis City Council Members Announce Intent To 'Dismantle' Police Department

Minneapolis City Council Members Announce Intent To 'Dismantle' Police Department

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Minneapolis, members of city council have said they intend to dismantle their city's police department. This announcement comes amid the massive protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of the city's police. And also, it comes as calls for disbanding or defunding police departments have grown louder nationwide. Here's NPR's Adrian Florido.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: On Sunday afternoon, nine members of the Minneapolis City Council took the stage at a meeting that black activists had organized at a city park. Hundreds were in the audience, many wearing pandemic face masks that read, defund police or stop killing black people. Lisa Bender, the city council president, told the crowd that efforts to reform the police had failed.

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LISA BENDER: Our commitment is to do what's necessary to keep every single member of our community safe and to tell the truth, that the Minneapolis police are not doing that.

(APPLAUSE, CHEERING)

FLORIDO: Then she made an announcement that surprised many.

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BENDER: Our commitment is to end our city's toxic relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department...

(APPLAUSE, CHEERING)

BENDER: ...And to recreate systems of public safety that actually keep us safe.

(APPLAUSE, CHEERING)

FLORIDO: Bender and her colleagues said that, in coming weeks and months, the council would take steps toward, quote, "ending the Minneapolis Police Department" through budget and policy decisions. Councilman Jeremiah Ellison said there are still many questions.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JEREMIAH ELLISON: We recognize that we don't have all the answers to what a police-free future looks like, but we know that the community does.

FLORIDO: The pledge by nine of the city council's 13 members means they have the votes to override a veto by Mayor Jacob Frey. He's said he supports major reforms but not dismantling the police. Activists in Minneapolis have been pushing for that for years. Sophia Benrud is an organizer with Black Visions, one of the main activist groups behind this idea.

SOPHIA BENRUD: I can imagine a lot of things. I have a lot of hopes. Would I have imagined that the city council was onboard with abolishing the police? No.

FLORIDO: She hopes the announcement leads to similar decisions in other cities. The police department did not issue an immediate response, neither did the powerful police officer's union. In the crowd on Sunday, even people who supported the decision asked, what's next? This is Alex Chapman (ph).

ALEX CHAPMAN: To be honest with you, I have the same question that a lot of people out here. You know, what happens if we don't have any police? I think it is a bold statement. But I think we're in a moment in history where we need a bold statement.

FLORIDO: He said he looks forward to the proposals activists and the city council come up with.

Adrian Florido, NPR News, Minneapolis.

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