Wait ’til next year? The Minneapolis Charter Commission rebuked the city council with its final 10-5 vote to shoot down a ballot measure in November that would have allowed them to “abolish the police.” The commission accused the city council of rushing the measure without any plan, while the council ended up pledging in vain to keep some kind of police force as part of its eventual replacement:
In a 10-5 vote, the Minneapolis Charter Commission decided Wednesday to block a controversial policing proposal from the November ballot by invoking its right to take more time to review it.
“We have an obligation to make sure that what is going on the ballot gives the voters an informed choice, that they can make a decision in a thoughtful way,” said Charter Commissioner Andrew Kozak, adding that he didn’t think the proposal accomplished that.
It could still come before voters next year. But the commission’s action to keep it off this year’s ballot dealt a major setback to activists and City Council members who have worked to transform Minneapolis’ public safety system following the police killing of George Floyd.
By the end, the city council had tied itself in knots in attempting to get the commission to sign off on the ballot measure:
A plan, written by five City Council members, would have ended that requirement and replaced the police department with a Department of Community Safety & Violence Prevention that would prioritize “a holistic, public health-oriented approach.”
As part of a last-ditch effort to send the proposal over the hurdle, a group of City Council members sent the commissioners a letter Wednesday assuring them that they “expect the transformed system to include law enforcement as part of a multifaceted approach to public safety.”
“The Minneapolis City Council is not asking you to put police abolition on the ballot, nor does the amendment propose this,” they wrote. “We are asking you to let Minneapolis vote on a new framework for public safety that aligns with the State of Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety.”
Say what? Police abolition is explicitly what the council said they wanted. Not only did they want to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department, council president Lisa Bender wanted Minneapolis residents to stop calling the police while they started the dismantling process. Remember this?
CAMEROTA: "What if in the middle of the night my home is broken into. Who do I call?"
BENDER: "Yes, I hear that loud and clear from a lot of my neighbors. And I know — and myself, too, and I know that that comes from a place of privilege." pic.twitter.com/WhubQ9yJIf
— Eddie Zipperer (@EddieZipperer) June 8, 2020
The Powderhorn Park neighborhood was foolish enough to follow this advice from Bender. Look how well that worked out. Small wonder, then, that the charter commission declined to follow Bender’s lead on the referendum. Flat-out lying about their motives probably didn’t help much either.
So what’s next? As the KARE11 report above notes, the charter commission can’t keep a measure off the ballot forever. If the city council persists — and if they can override Mayor Jacob Frey’s pledged veto — they can put their abolish-the-police plan on next year’s ballot. Perhaps by that time they’ll actually have a plan, but by that time they’ll also be on the ballot themselves. They’d be rolling the dice that Minneapolis is as extreme as they are, rather than just disinclined to take municipal election seriously until now. That should provide everyone with a moment of clarity.