There's a certain irony, isn't there, in the fact that Minneapolis taxpayers have spent an extra $63,000, at least, in the last month to provide private security for three City Council members who had declared their intention to dismantle the Police Department and replace it with some other structure.
We don't want to be too cynical about it, though. The other way to describe the situation is that three elected officials have faced threats to their personal safety for introducing into the public discourse an idea that many of their constituents support following another in a long series of wake-up calls over police behavior, in this case the death of George Floyd.
Though (as we've stated previously) the repeal-and-replace initiative is not well thought out, and though its clarity is little improved even after a unanimous City Council vote last week to advance it, this process — proposition, debate, decision — is at the heart of the democracy whose origin Americans will be celebrating in just a few days. Ideas are meant to be ambitious and debate is meant to be vigorous, but change is not meant to be effortless. Too many people on too many points of the ideological spectrum want to kick one or more of these pillars down.
The private security measures for the three council members are temporary, according to a city spokeswoman, who also said the two companies providing the services have licensed, armed officers. As long as the costs don't exceed $175,000, the council doesn't need to publicly sign off, she said.
How shameful for our society that it's come to this, but the extra security must be provided. We do hope that council members fully consider the implications, though. Residents and businesses also face threats that can be mitigated by the presence of licensed, armed officers.
City Council President Lisa Bender told CNN last month that the fear of not having the police to call upon "comes from a place of privilege." We can see what she was trying to get at — that the realized benefits of the current policing structure depend upon who you are and where you live — but that word "privilege" is loaded.
A sense of safety is a basic human need, and fear in its absence is universal. The debate in Minneapolis and elsewhere should not be about taking security from some but providing it persuasively to all.