The Minneapolis City Council on Friday unanimously approved a measure to abolish the city’s police department — a radical proposal amid nationwide efforts by activists to defund local law enforcement agencies.
The 12-0 vote will not automatically dismantle the department, but is a first step in a long legislative process that will ultimately need popular support by city residents in a November election.
The proposal gained popularity among city council members amid widespread protests and riots in the city following the killing of George Floyd by a city police officer last month.
Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck until Floyd lost consciousness and ultimately died, which was captured on video. Floyd’s killing touched off nationwide protests against police brutality and sparked efforts to defund or abolish police forces in cities across the country.
The vote to abolish the police force Friday will require amending the city’s charter. A draft amendment that was posted online suggests replacing the force with a “Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.”
The suggested department would consist of peace officers and ensure public safety through “a holistic, public health-oriented approach.”
City council members hoped to capitalize on grassroots support for abolishing the department amid the protests in the city and across the country ahead of the vote Friday.
“It is time to make structural change,” council member Steve Fletcher told the Associated Press before the vote. “It is time to start from scratch and reinvent what public safety looks like.”
The proposal will have to pass through a committee, then be reviewed by the city’s Charter Commission, then approved again by the entire city council by Aug. 21.
The mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, does not support the proposal and has power to veto it.