National money is flowing into the political fight over the future of the Minneapolis Police Department, months before city residents could vote on its future.
In mid-November, the Open Society Policy Center based in Washington, D.C., donated $500,000 to a new political committee, Vote Yes For Minneapolis, that wants to eliminate the city's requirement to have a Police Department. The donation, first reported by the newsletter MPLS take and the Minnesota Reformer, was included in a campaign finance report filed late last month.
Minneapolis politics have drawn unprecedented scrutiny as city leaders and residents debate how to change policing in the wake of George Floyd's death and a dramatic uptick in violent crime.
Representatives for the center, whose board members include children of billionaire philanthropist and Democratic donor George Soros, could not immediately be reached, nor could a representative for Yes For Minneapolis.
Minnesota business filings show a nonprofit called Yes 4 Minneapolis, which lists the same address, registered with the state in December.
That group has posted job ads online seeking a campaign manager to build support for an effort to change the city charter, eliminate the requirement to have a Police Department with a minimum number of officers and "promote community-led safety proposed by community members."
"The goal of the campaign is to win a majority support for a 'Yes' vote to change the Minneapolis City Charter," one posting said. "The Yes 4 Minneapolis campaign will require extensive community conversation and political education to determine what the charter amendment should say."
The position pays between $80,000 and $90,000.
According to the posting, the campaign manager will work closely with leaders from Reclaim the Block and Black Visions, two groups that led efforts to end the Police Department last summer. Representatives of those groups couldn't immediately be reached.
Last month, three Minneapolis City Council Members — Phillipe Cunningham, Steve Fletcher and Jeremy Schroeder — introduced a proposal to replace the Police Department and remove the requirement to have a minimum number of officers based on the city's population.
In its place, a Department of Public Safety department would include police and additional divisions aimed at providing a "comprehensive approach to public safety beyond law enforcement."
That proposal would also remove the mayor's "complete power" over police operations and likely grant the council more sway over the new department.
Supporters are pushing for the amendment to go before voters in November.