Minneapolis protesters expelled Mayor Jacob Frey from a Saturday rally, shouting “Shame! Shame! “After rejecting calls to police.
It was a striking moment that illustrated how much the national conversation has changed in the nearly two-week protests over the death of George Floyd, who was murdered on May 25 by a Minneapolis officer who knelt on his neck. What was once a niche, radical argument – to insult the police – has become an appeal to protesters who want drastic changes that will dismantle a system they see as racist and ineffective.
While most Americans do not support police cuts (according to a Yahoo / YouGov poll conducted during the early days of the protests), officials are now being forced to at least fight these arguments. This also applies to Frey, who campaigned on a platform of police reform before his election in 2017. He was faced with the question during a rally he attended on Saturday: When a woman on the podium gave him a microphone to answer whether or not he’d cheated the Minneapolis police, he replied: ‘I support the full do not abolish the police. “
After his response, protesters booed the mayor and shouted “Go home, Jacob, go home!” and “Too bad! Shame!”
Later, in one interview with the New York TimesFrey said he still supported “deep structural reform of a racist system”, such as banning the police union from collective bargaining. It’s a movement that, according to a study, could reduce violent police misconduct, but is far from what activists are looking for.
Some of the activists’ demands were met: After Floyd died, the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Public Schools, and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board ended their relationship with the police.
However, for activists in Minneapolis who support the abolition of the police, this is not enough.
MPD150, a community organization in Minneapolis, wrote on her website that police forces should be abolished because the system is inherently flawed: “It’s not just that the police are ineffective: they are actively harmful in many communities. The history of the police is a history of violence against the marginalized.”
According to MPD150, the transition would be gradual; resources and funding must be strategically transferred from the police to community models of security.
“A world without police would look like security that is controlled and led by our community, which focuses on transformation and transformative justice,” Kandace Montgomery, director of Black Visions Collective and founder of the Minneapolis chapter of Black Lives Matter, said the intercept. “A world without the police means that everyone has what they need to survive and what they need to live a healthy life. It means we have the money we need for education, health, housing, workers’ rights. “
Minneapolis City Council is one of the most responsive protesters across the country
Mayor Jacob Frey may not be in favor of the lifting of the police, but the movement is not entirely rejected by city officials. Activists have at least four of Minneapolis’ 13 city councilors on their side.
Councilor Jeremiah Ellison – who was an outspoken critic of the police response to the protests, according to the Star Tribune – first tweeted Thursday: “We’re going to dismantle the Minneapolis police. And when we’re done, we’re not just going to glue it back together. We are going to dramatically reconsider how we approach public safety and emergency relief. Other members, including City Council President Lisa Bender, joined Ellison’s call to protect the police shortly after.
We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis police.
And when we’re done, we’re not just going to glue it back together.
We are going to dramatically reconsider how we approach public safety and emergency relief.
It is really overdue. https://t.co/7WIxUL6W79
– Jeremiah Ellison (@ jeremiah4north) June 4, 2020
While the council is likely to discuss the idea only later or next year, city councilor Steve Fletcher shared an outline of what the future would look like without the police in a Time opinion.
“We had already called for pilot programs to direct mental health professionals from the province to mental health calls, and ambulance personnel to opioid overdose calls, without police officers,” he wrote. “We experimented with unarmed, community-oriented street teams in the center on weekend nights in the same way to focus on de-escalation. Likewise, we can hand over traffic enforcement to cameras and possibly to our parking enforcement officers, rather than our police. ”
These calls for radical reform have not been welcomed by all Minneapolis residents.
“What does that mean? Who provides the public service to the police? I don’t even know how to answer that,” Steve Birch, chairman of the ward council of the predominantly white Linden Hills area, told the New York Times.
But not only Minneapolis faces demands from activists to dismantle their police forces. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he had cut up to $ 150 million from the police budget and invest in marginalized communities. Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio staffers signed an open letter to their boss demanded a $ 1 billion cut from the police budget of $ 6 billion.
More sweeping reforms are likely to be a tough one for activists, given historically strong support for law enforcement officers. The YouGov poll, which was held from May 29 to 30 under 1,060 American adults found that only 16 percent of Americans want to defraud the police. Meanwhile, 65 percent opposed cuts to the police. However, this may change as protests continue – especially among white Americans: in a Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project surveythose who had a favorable impression of the police fell from 72 percent to 61 percent after Floyd’s death.
In his opinion, Fletcher acknowledged that “reform can be daunting and even scary,” yet invited readers to “rethink what public security means.”
“The whole world is watching,” he wrote. “We can make police work as we know it a thing of the past and create a compassionate, nonviolent future.”