Minneapolis is at a crossroads when it comes to the future of public safety in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. The burning of the Third Precinct sent a stark message that despite years of incremental reforms, radical change must happen now.
The beginnings of change are already underway in some instances — the Minneapolis City Council proposal to change the city’s charter to remove the requirement for a police department is one example. In its place, the city would create a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention — prioritizing a community-led, holistic approach to public safety — which may or may not include police.
“Changing the city charter will remove barriers that can get in the way of us as elected officials making sure that the best solutions brought forward by our community can be brought to life,” said Minneapolis City Council member Philipe Cunningham.
When it comes to the future of policing in Minneapolis, there are a lot of options on the table. Reform, defund and abolish are terms that appear frequently in these conversations — but what does each really mean?
Reformers focus on working within existing institutions to make policing better. Abolitionists, on the other hand, believe that a “better system” of policing doesn’t include the police — and defunding the police department is central, but not exclusive to the abolitionist movement.
“Defunding is in the process toward abolition because right now we’re wasting $193 million on police when we could be investing those things in housing, jobs, education as well as alternatives to policing,” said Black Visions Collective director Kandace Montgomery, who is one of the activists leading the campaign to abolish the Minneapolis Police Department.
There’s still no plan for exactly what the future of policing in Minneapolis should look like, but activists, community leaders and residents are already weighing in. In the latest episode of Tomorrow Together, we talked with them about our community’s relationship with the police and what a future without them might look like.
Next time, we’ll dig into why past attempts at police reform in Minneapolis have fallen short. To get notified when that episode premieres, subscribe to our YouTube channel, where you can also catch up on previous episodes of Tomorrow Together.