The city of Minneapolis on Thursday made public about 1,000 of the several thousand comments it has received on a proposal to amend the city’s charter to end the requirement to maintain a police department.
The charter amendment was proposed in the wake of the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Proponents would like to see the city create a community safety department that could include officers but wouldn’t be required to do so.
The city is releasing the comments, which do not include names, in increments as it checks to ensure that they do not contain private data. The comments released Thursday night were submitted June 29-30.
On Wednesday night, more than 100 speakers expressed their views about the proposal as a virtual public hearing before the Minneapolis Charter Commission. Most speaking out then favored the proposal.
Many of the people who spoke in favor of the plan said they believe the city charter presents an impenetrable obstacle to reform and that residents of color — who are disproportionately subjected to officers’ force — can’t wait for change.
Many who spoke against it said they feared it was too vague, or that the City Council members who drafted it hadn’t done enough to consult with Black community leaders.
The comments released Thursday echo those concerns and convictions, as well as the passion felt by many on both sides of the issue.
A majority of City Council members have described amending the charter as a way to change policing in the wake of Floyd’s death. But doing so would require cooperation on the part of the Charter Commission, a group appointed by a judge, whose review of the proposal could keep it off the November ballot.
The Charter Commission must decide whether to recommend the plan head to the ballot, reject it or offer an alternative. It also could choose to take up to 150 days to review it, overshooting an Aug. 21 deadline for submitting items for consideration this year.
If the proposal passes in an election, the mayor and City Council would make decisions about specific police staffing levels in separate processes.
Staff writers Liz Navratil and Pamela Miller contributed to this report.