On Tuesday night, the social media buzz around the vote for the charter amendment in Minneapolis that would have replaced the current police structure with a Department of Public Safety resembled the chaos that's common on Sundays during the NFL season.
Chatter on both sides of the issue suggested the outcome — about 56% of the votes were against the measure that would have also scrapped a minimum staffing requirement for police officers — would yield a clear victor.
But I wonder: Did anyone really win?
Mayor Jacob Frey and local police believe they won, it seems. But the world views their city as a murder scene, and the results of an ongoing federal investigation could uncover systemic problems and additional misconduct within the Police Department.
It's also significant to consider if anyone lost on Tuesday. If the pursuit of police reform is the collective aspiration, then Tuesday should be depicted as a catalyst for a community that's demanded more from policing in the city where George Floyd was murdered.
A portion of the city's residents, who are concerned about the efforts by police to address crime in the most violent pockets of Minneapolis and to commit to ending the brutality against unarmed Black people, gave the police a no-confidence vote on Tuesday.
They also vowed to continue their fight.
That's why Tuesday feels like the start, not the end, of a movement that will persist long past the elections. The hard work continues. It has to.
"I absolutely would not call this a loss," said JaNae' Bates, communications director for Yes 4 Minneapolis, which backed the amendment. "I've been in electoral politics for a while, and while it's definitely a zero-sum game when it comes to elections, the reality is that this campaign has spent over a year making some really dramatic shifts in the way that people think about both policing and public safety, namely that we don't conflate the two as often as we used to and recognizing that public safety and policing are not one in the same. And that is a dramatic shift from where we were 18 months ago, quite frankly."
To ignore that view is to dismiss the diversified push to create systemic change and to avoid another tragedy. Tuesday's vote offered validation for those who believe a structural upheaval is the only path to real reform.
People of all backgrounds, however, questioned the validity of the vision for the Department of Public Safety and craved more definitive answers about its structure. The concept is full of unknowns and that affected the level of support for the initiative. But modern policing is also a concept, one that's widely accepted as irreplaceable and historically resistant to alternate models.
"It's a reset about the conversation," said D.A. Bullock, a filmmaker and an activist with Reclaim the Block who sent messages to his 14,000 Twitter followers in support of the amendment. "We've gone this far, and a lot of good information came out about the limitations of the Minneapolis Police Department that we really need to look at as a community. We need to look at the fact that we've never really had high-quality public safety in north Minneapolis, regardless of staffing levels. To me, that's the part where we've got to be like, 'What do we do around that?' "
Other industries lack the security policing has always enjoyed, despite its documented calamity.
After TWA Flight 800 crashed in 1996 in Long Island, New York, after a fuel tank exploded and all 230 people aboard died, commercial planes were redesigned to prevent similar midair disasters. Our grocery stores pull food off our shelves for a handful of Salmonella cases tied to bags of spinach. Auto manufacturers recall vehicles en masse for slight flaws in seat belts or air bags that could leave drivers vulnerable.
We are actually quite reactive, radical and demanding when we believe our safety has been compromised, even if that condition is the result of a mistake. Why is policing, anchored by officers trained to protect and serve, any different?
I don't think anybody has all of the answers on police reform, but I do hope, no matter how people voted on Tuesday, they remain committed to it.
Each year, Phil Stinson, a professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University, tracks 1,100 to 1,300 arrests of police officers throughout the country for unlawful killings, DUIs, sex crimes and other acts. Stinson, a former police officer, said he questions if law enforcement can be reformed without changing the specific behaviors and biases that disproportionately impact people of color.
But the coming months and years in Minneapolis, he said, could act as a road map for other municipalities that might aim to reimagine policing.
"There are no winners as a result of Tuesday's vote, in my view," he said. "The people on all sides of these issues have to keep going back and figuring out solutions. What we need to do is figure out, for the next one to three generations, what do we want policing to look like? It's just the beginning. If nothing else, it started the dialogue. And that's really important."
In the emotional aftermath of Floyd's murder last year, many Minneapolis residents said they wanted to see monumental changes in local policing. They marched for the changes. They posted signs in their front lawns to support them. They shared Facebook posts on the issues, too.
It's still unclear, however, if those efforts were genuine.
Myron Medcalf is a local columnist for the Star Tribune and a national writer and radio host for ESPN. His column appears in print on Sundays twice a month and also online.