Minneapolis council pledges to abolish police department in major victory for protesters

Minneapolis council pledges to abolish police department in major victory for protesters
The council of Minneapolis, the city where anti-racist protests erupted two weeks ago following the killing of George Floyd, has promised to disband its police department.
2 min read
08 June, 2020
Many demonstrators are calling for defunding the police [Getty]
A majority of council members in Minneapolis have voted to abolish the city's police department, less than two weeks after the killing of a local unarmed black man in police custody sparked some of the largest protests ever seen in the US.

"A veto-proof majority of the MPLS City Council just publicly agreed that the Minneapolis Police Department is not reformable and that we're going to end the current policing system," council member Alondra Cano said in a tweet on Sunday.

Anti-racist activists have called for the abolition of the police during the protests that have swept the US since the death of George Floyd on 25 May.

Floyd died after white Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd pleaded that he could not breathe.

Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder; three other officers have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

"We recognise that we don't have all the answers about what a police-free future looks like, but our community does," nine Minneapolis council members said in a statement on Sunday.

Previous efforts to reform the police department had proven it could not be reformer or held accountable, the statement said.

"We're committed to engaging with every willing community member in the City of Minneapolis over the next year to identify what safety looks like for you," it added.

The council's commitment to disbanding the police department came a day after Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told a crowd of protesters he did not support defunding the police.

Demonstators booed the mayor in response, telling him to "go home" with cries of "shame, shame".

It is unclear what would replace policing but activists in the Black Lives Matter movement have suggested alternatives such as dispatching social workers and mental health professionals in certain situations.

Organisers also advocate for the reallocation of funds to youth and social services in black and ethnic minority communities.

Advocates of police reform rather than abolition argue that the law enforcement body must remain in some form in order to tackle issues such as domestic violence.

The promise to disband the Minneapolis Police Department marks the second major victory for protesters calling for justice for George Floyd.

In response to the nationwide demonstrations, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison last week increased the severity of charges against police officer Derek Chauvin and charged another three officers in relation the killing.

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