The political committee behind a proposal to replace the Minneapolis Police Department brought in nearly $1 million in campaign contributions this year, signaling intense local and national interest in an election that is still three months away.
Yes 4 Minneapolis, which gathered signatures to place a policing question on the November ballot, reported roughly $983,000 in donations — money that came from a mix of individuals and local and national groups, according to a campaign finance report filed Tuesday. The group is seeking a change to the city charter that would clear the way for officials to replace the Police Department with a public safety agency.
But opposition funding is also percolating. A group called All of Mpls, formed this spring, raised roughly $109,000 in the past three weeks, according to its campaign manager.
The amount of money flowing into political committees advocating on either side of policing proposals has added a new dynamic into the first municipal races since George Floyd's murder by a Minneapolis police officer. Campaign finance forms filed with Hennepin County provided new details about the groups contributing to such efforts.
JaNaé Bates, a spokeswoman for Yes 4 Minneapolis, sees the donations as another sign that people "are ready for an actual change, a real difference." Across the spectrum of ages and races, "all of them have the same answer as to what their next step is, and it's removing this barrier in the city charter," she said.
All of Mpls campaign manager Leili Fatehi said the group supports efforts to reform policing and add new safety programs but believes "doing that does not require a charter amendment."
Yes 4 Minneapolis reported receiving roughly $983,000 in donations this year. Just over half that was in cash, while the rest was "in-kind donations," a term used to estimate the value when a group provides staffing, access to e-mail lists or other nonmonetary help.
Among the group's biggest donors were MoveOn.Org, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that says it's "committed to an inclusive and progressive future," and the national American Civil Liberties Union, as well as local groups Black Visions and Reclaim the Block.
MoveOn.org, which gave roughly $430,000 in in-kind donations, didn't return a request for comment. The national ACLU provided just over $75,000 in cash and nearly $4,000 in staff time.
"We got involved because white supremacy is embedded in many of the institutions that are supposed to protect us — including police and our criminal legal system, and we are committed to rooting it out and repairing the harm still being inflicted on communities of color," the ACLU said.
Yes 4 Minneapolis' 49-page filing also included many smaller donations from individuals, a mix of people from the Twin Cities and elsewhere across the country.
Political committees organizing in the election have taken different stances on whether to accept money from groups outside Minneapolis and, if they do, how much money to take. Some argue the money helps provide crucial assistance to populations that have been historically underserved and outspent, while others worry new dollars are drowning out the voices of local residents.
Seeking to distinguish itself as the "homegrown effort," All of Mpls said in a statement: "Those pushing to eliminate the police department are funded overwhelmingly by people and organizations outside of Minnesota who are hoping to use Minneapolis as the national experiment for abolishing the police." Its detailed donation list hadn't yet been posted to the county's campaign finance website as of late Tuesday.
Yes 4 Minneapolis defended its donations and anticipated some organized opposition.
"We always knew there was a handful of people who've benefited from power and resource-holding, and they're not gonna yield that power very easily," Bates said.
Staff Writer Susan Du contributed to this report.
Liz Navratil • 612-673-4994