Dozens of Minneapolis businesses are considering leaving downtown, citing concerns about the possibility of the police department being dismantled, CBS Minnesota reported.
A survey by the Downtown Council shows 45 business owners say they are considering leaving downtown Minneapolis because of the lack of people working and socializing in the area and also the idea that the police department could be dismantled, CBS reported.
One of the surveyed businesses that is considering leaving employs 600 people, deepening fears that the city could take another major blow to employment, which was hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The Council did not divulge which businesses are considering leaving.
“This is by far the biggest challenge that I’ve ever had in my 20 years of owning businesses downtown,” Erik Forsberg, who owns multiple restaurants in downtown Minneapolis told CBS. Forsberg’s restaurants have been reportedly closed since the pandemic began and crime multiplied.
“We are seeing a lot of restaurants take a hit right now,” realtor Kris Lindahl says, adding that he expects restaurants to downsize and possibly share kitchens, according to CBS.
“We are seeing business owners wanting to eliminate the overhead, especially in a world where it looks like there’s going to be a more hybrid approach happening – and people are going to be working from home – business owners and companies are looking to downsize,” he continued.
The president of the Downtown Council, Steve Cramer, has explained to council members that the mention of dismantling the Minneapolis police department has deterred business owners. He believes there will still be police, but they would have crisis support.
Efforts to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department began after the May 25 death of George Floyd, who died after an officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.
The City Council has pushed to replace the police department with a “Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention,” which has an approach that hasn’t been fully defined but would prioritize “a holistic, public health-oriented approach” that called for a division of licensed peace officers, allowing for some armed police officers. (RELATED: Minneapolis Is One Step Closer To Abolishing Police Department After Unanimous City Council Vote)
However, a Minneapolis commission decided Wednesday that it would take more time to review the City Council amendment to dismantle the police department after concerns that the process was being rushed. “The council says ‘Trust us. We’ll figure it out after this is approved. Trust us.’ We’ll I don’t, and we shouldn’t,” Berry Clegg, chairman of the Charter Commission said according to CBS News.
The stalling of the amendment by the commission means the issue will not appear on ballots in November, since there will be no final decision by the deadline.
Violent crime in Minneapolis has surged to levels not seen in several years, as the number of police officers on the street is scaled back. Officers have reportedly also taken longer to respond to 911 calls, in part because of the shrinking size of the force, Democratic Mayor Jacob Frey said according to MPR News.