Norm Coleman to Minneapolis city council: How about defunding and dismantling ... yourself?

So much for the quiet, in both real and political terms. After police calls dipped below normal levels following the riots, Minneapolis had several shootings overnight. Eight people got hit, although all survived — at least one thanks to the quick response of the police, who saved the woman’s life:


The violence started shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday, when officers responded to calls of gunfire in the 2900 block of Columbus Avenue, only to learn that a male victim had been dropped off at an area hospital. A preliminary investigation showed that the shooting was preceded by an argument between a group of people, according to police, who offered few other details.

About 11:25 p.m., police were dispatched to a reported drive-by shooting in the 1100 block of 21st Avenue N., a block west of the Hawthorne Crossings strip mall. When they arrived, they found two women suffering from gunshot wounds, with officers applying a tourniquet to help save one of the women’s lives, a department spokesman said. A third victim showed up at an area hospital some time later, with a non-life threatening injury from the same incident, police said.

Police say that about seven minutes after the 21st Avenue shooting, gunfire broke out a few blocks east of that location, in the area of N. 5th and W. Broadway Avenue; two male victims were dropped off at a nearby hospital, both suffering from non-life threatening injuries, police said.

Around the same time, two men with gunshot wounds were dropped off at HCMC, after apparently being injured when gunfire rang out in the area of S. 38th and Chicago avenues. The block, which was thrust into the international spotlight after Floyd’s death at the hands of a former Minneapolis officer on May 25, has long had a reputation for gang violence, police and neighbors say.


No arrests have been made in any of the shootings, including a standoff with a barricaded suspect. The hours-long effort drew a lot of attention in the north Minneapolis neighborhood, some of it hostile but still peaceful, but the suspect slipped away without police realizing it. The victim in that shooting made it to the hospital is also expected to survive. The city has had three other fatal shootings since the beginning of the month, even though calls for shootings had briefly declined.

None of this is likely to convince the city’s residents that this is the moment to dismantle the city’s police department in favor of a “new public safety model.” That may be even more true after the cost of the true tally of damage from the riots. According to local CBS affiliate WCCO, 700 buildings were either damaged, burned, or destroyed — which means businesses and jobs may be a long time in coming back to the city:

Voters will also likely wonder, as does former St. Paul mayor and US Senator Norm Coleman does, why the city council wants to jettison policing rather than just run it more responsibly. In a blistering column in today’s Star Tribune that should be read in its entirety, Coleman concludes the only body it needs to dismantle is itself — and replace it with city government that takes its responsibilities more seriously:

Meanwhile, in times of great tragedy there are those who rise from the ashes to give comfort to the afflicted.

There are those who provide leadership when communities are clamoring for a way out from desperation.

There are people who bring the best and the brightest ideas to bear to change bad systems and bad processes.

And then there is the Minneapolis City Council.


Coleman doesn’t buy the excuse from Jacob Frey and his predecessors R.T. Rybak and Betsy Hodges that they were hamstrung by the city’s contract with the police union. “Blaming the police union is, no pun intended, a cop-out,” Coleman writes, and so is blaming “systemic racism.” Just exactly who has been running Minneapolis for the last several decades, Coleman asks? If “systemic racism” exists in Minneapolis’ government, it must be part of the progressives that have controlled it for most of our lifetimes.

And with that said …

Mayors Frey, Rybak and Hodges and the City Council all claim they were impotent because the police union was too strong for them.

If that is true then the remedy isn’t to defund and disband the Police Department.

It’s time to defund and disband the current elected leadership at Minneapolis City Hall and find people with the courage and conviction to protect all of the people of Minneapolis, all of the time, everywhere in the city.

In fairness, Frey at least opposes the defund-and-dismantle effort spearheaded by city council president Lisa Bender, but he’s also quick to dodge the responsibility, too. Rather than use police wisely in securing the streets after the murder of George Floyd, Frey let them withdraw — and then all but disappeared himself, except to tearfully (and inaccurately) scold Donald Trump about the strength of the city’s government. Only after Tim Walz belatedly seized the streets himself with the National Guard and state police did the riots in Minneapolis finally slow down.


There are and have been longstanding issues with the police in the city — practically everyone in the Metro has a story or two — and the union might be one obstacle. The city council, however, needs to have the intestinal fortitude to fight adversarially with public-employee unions in general, including the police union, to secure the city properly. If they can’t handle that job or deal with the aftermath of their own policy decisions, then they should take Norm Coleman’s advice … and disband themselves.

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Stephen Moore 12:00 AM | February 22, 2024