The Minneapolis City Council voted to cut millions from the police department budget for 2021 and to allocate the funds to violence prevention and community programs early Thursday morning.
The council approved “Safety for All” amendments that redirect $7.7 million of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) budget towards community violence prevention and mental health response. Over 300 citizens signed up to testify before the City Council vote. People against defunding the police argued that it made them feel less safe while citizens in favor of cutting the department’s budget compared officers to terrorists, white supremacists and gang members.
“In the first budget since George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police, the City Council has adopted a budget that invests in specific, concrete actions to transform community safety starting in 2021,” Council President Lisa Bender said.
“The City Council has stepped up to lead, working together to respond to complex demands from a community reeling from police violence, community violence and the social unrest that followed George Floyd’s death,” Bender said.
Minneapolis City Council members who tried unsuccessfully to dismantle the police department in response to George Floyd’s death are voting Wednesday on whether to shrink it.https://t.co/gX5qOfGrOZ
— ABC 7 News – WJLA (@ABC7News) December 9, 2020
Minneapolis has experienced an increase in violent crimes since the death of George Floyd combined with several officer resignations and civil unrest. (RELATED: Rising Violence Prompts Minneapolis City Officials To Consider Asking Nearby Officers For Support)
Reports of carjackings increased by over 500%, murders are up over 50%, and over 500 people have been shot in Minneapolis this year, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported.
“Give the police chief the freedom to do his job,” a citizen against cutting the department’s budget said. “To deter crime we need more police, not fewer.”
Communities have formed their own groups in response to increasing crime. Some have built barricades and others include armed individuals, the DCNF reported.
“MPD has lost the trust of the residents,” a citizen who supported cutting the MPD’s budget said. “How long will we wait until there is another George Floyd?”
Floyd died in the custody of a former Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, video shows. Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests, riots and general civil unrest.
Democratic Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey threatened to veto the entire budget if the council voted to remove open vacant positions from within the police department. The council voted 7-6 in favor of a resolution to fund 140 vacant positions for the MPD in 2022, but the vote did not impact the 2021 budget.
“Despite having no realistic plan to hire 140 new officers in 2022, the Mayor threatened to veto a budget that invests in community safety, health, eviction prevention, affordable housing, economic recovery and other investments that are needed now more than ever,” Bender said.
Frey commended the council’s decision to maintain staffing levels within the MPD. “My colleagues were right to leave the targeted staffing level unchanged from 888 and continue moving forward with our shared priorities,” Frey said.
“The additional funding for new public safety solutions will also allow the City to continue upscaling important mental health, non-police response, and social service components in our emergency response system,” Frey said.
Despite voting to abolish the MPD on June 12, members of the city council said their constituents were concerned about increasing crime rates, the DCNF reported.
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