Minneapolis City Council Members announced they plan to disband the city's police force and will work on developing a new way to handle public safety following the death of George Floyd on May 25. Members of the city council voiced their support for dismantling the police department last week and several important organizations have cut ties with the department. Floyd's death inspired protests against police brutality and racial inequality across the country, as well as growing calls for police reform.
Nine of the 13 city council members took the stage at a protest at Powderhorn Park Sunday afternoon to announce their intent to disband the police force. There were no concrete details announced, but council member Philippe Cunningham said they could draw out a plan when crafting the next city budget, reports CBS Minnesota. Cunningham said residents would not suddenly "have nobody for your to call for help," adding, "There will be thoughtful and intentional work that’s done, research engagement, learning that happens in a transition that will happen over time."
Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender assured protesters they have been heard, and that their "incremental reforms" have failed. "We are here today because George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis Police," she said, reports The Appeal. "We are here because here in Minneapolis and in cities across the United States it is clear that our existing system of policing and public safety is not keeping our communities safe."
During the week, calls to disband the police from inside and outside the city council have only grown louder. On Friday morning, council member Steve Fletcher suggested the city needs to "start fresh with a community-oriented, non-violent public safety and outreach capacity" in a TIME op-ed. Council members Lisa Bender and Jeremiah Ellison also voiced their support on Twitter Thursday. Minneapolis Public Schools, the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Parks and Recreation and other organizations said they would no longer work with the department.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said Sunday he still does not support "abolishing" the Minneapolis Police Department, although he has agreed to make reforms. "I’ll work relentlessly with [Police Chief Medaria Arradondo] and alongside community toward deep, structural reform and addressing systemic racism in police culture," he said Sunday. "And we’re ready to dig in and enact more community-led, public safety strategies on behalf of our city."
Floyd died while in police custody after he was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill. Derek Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes, even after Floyd lost consciousness. Chauvin was fired and charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to ban police use of chokeholds and neck restraints.