Minneapolis City Council Will Vote to Dismantle Police Department, Vows 'New Model of Public Safety'

The bold move comes two weeks after George Floyd's death at the hands of four officers

Minneapolis Police Department
Photo: Douglas Sacha/Getty

Nine members of the Minneapolis City Council said on Sunday they intend to defund and dismantle the city's police department in the wake of George Floyd's killing -- but the city's mayor says he rejects that plan.

In an interview with CNN, Council President Lisa Bender announced the plan. "We committed to dismantling policing as we know it in the city of Minneapolis and to rebuild with our community a new model of public safety that actually keeps our community safe," she said.

Bender pointed out that 9 of the council's 13 members will vote for the measure, which is a veto-proof supermajority.

The move comes less than two weeks after four Minneapolis police officers were seen arresting Floyd on video. In the video, officer Derek Chauvin can be seen with his knee firmly placed on the back of Floyd's neck. Floyd, 46, was handcuffed and lying on his stomach next to a Minneapolis patrol car. Floyd died of suffocation at the scene. The police officers have all been charged in connection with his death.

But Mayor Jacob Frey spoke out later on Sunday, reiterating that he doesn't support the abolishment of the force, but instead wants to address the issues from within.

""I'll work relentlessly with Chief [Medaria] Arradondo and alongside community toward deep, structural reform and addressing systemic racism in police culture," Frey said in a statement to KARE . "We're ready to dig in and enact more community-led, public safety strategies on behalf of our city. But I do not support abolishing the Minneapolis Police Department."

The mayor's statement comes just one day after protestors stopped outside his home. Frey came outside to talk to the crowd, KARE reports. When asked if he would defund the police, Frey said no.

"I am absolutely for a massive shift, a structural shift in how the police department functions," he told the crowd. "Am I for abolishing the entire police department? No, I’m not and I’ll be honest about that too." The crowd booed his answer.

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Frey is also seeking federal and state aid for his city, saying that the aftermath of the Floyd killing has cost more than $55 million in damage.

But the mayor's opposition is not deterring the city council. This weekend, all nine supporters on the council attended a protest at the Minneapolis neighborhood of Powderhorn Park, and reiterated their support of the plan.

It is unclear when the council will vote on the measure.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.
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