Shameless: Minneapolis city council votes to disband police -- but pays $4500 a day for private security

Protection for we, social workers for thee? The Minneapolis city council seems determined to prove the hypocrisy of “defund the police,” all the way to the point of satire. Yesterday, the council voted unanimously to pursue a still-ambiguous plan to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a more politically correct “Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.”

Would that include police, though — and if so, what’s the point? No one’s quite sure yet:

The council voted unanimously to advance a proposal that would create a new Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. Within that, the city could create a division that includes “licensed peace officers,” though it would not be required to do so.

It’s unclear how many, if any, officers would continue to be employed by the city if the proposal passes.

Council Member Cam Gordon said it’s consistent with the pledge from council members to fundamentally alter local policing in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis officers.

“Those things that we called the police department are gone,” Gordon said. “Certainly, there is a provision in here that would allow this council or future councils to maintain a Division of Law Enforcement Services, but I think what we need to do is have that possibility there and talk to people about what the future should look like.”

Maybe we should know what the “future” looks like before changing the present. The city council can’t actually change the present anyway, thanks to a city charter that requires them to maintain a police department with precise staffing levels. The best they can do under the charter is impose a cut of around 20%, but even that would fall afoul of the collective bargaining agreement with the police union. (Agreements negotiated and signed by a succession of progressive city councils, I might add here.) That makes yesterday’s vote an exercise in pusillanimity; there’s no cost to it at all.

That’s more than we can say about the three most vocal advocates for eliminating police on the city council. Minneapolis has shelled out $4500 a day in private security at the same time these councillors have plotted to dismantle policing in the city, the local Fox News affiliate reported late last night:

The City of Minneapolis is spending $4,500 a day for private security for three council members who have received threats following the police killing of George Floyd, FOX 9 has learned.

A city spokesperson said the private security details have cost the city $63,000 over the past three weeks.

The three council members who have the security detail – Andrea Jenkins (Ward 8), and Phillipe Cunningham (Ward 4), and Alondra Cano (Ward 9)– have been outspoken proponents of defunding the Minneapolis Police Department.

Jenkins blamed it on “white nationalists” (natch), but it’s veeeeeerrrrry interesting that none of the three have filed police reports about these death threats. If not, why not? And for that matter, why does this require security details at all? Surely the city council can task social workers to de-escalate the issue with people making death threats. That is, after all, their plan for everyone else in Minneapolis.

We’re back to security for we, bupkis for thee. That is precisely how this will play out in the community, too, if the city council actually succeeds in this plan. The wealthier enclaves will pay for private armed security out of their own pockets, and powerful politicians out of everyone else’s, that they control while leaving the rest of the city to the social workers and the violent actors that will fill the power vacuum. The rich and powerful will get the policing they like, while the middle- and working classes will get left to the violent extremists and the armed “neighborhood watch” bands that arise to combat them. Don’t expect the middle- and working classes to stick around for long after that. Hopefully this lesson in hypocrisy will prompt those voters to reject this nonsense proposal — and get rid of a few city councillors along the way, too.