The Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to advance a proposal that would change the city’s charter to allow for the police department to be abolished, a radical move that comes about a month after protests and riots erupted nationwide in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
The proposal was passed 12-0, but it doesn’t mean the department is abolished. The move still faces a number of hurdles, including a citywide ballot vote, before it can become a law.
“The City Council voted today to advance a proposed ballot measure that would ask Minneapolis voters to amend the City Charter to create a new Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention and remove the Police Department as a charter department,” the City of Minneapolis wrote in a statement on Friday.
The vote comes after cries to “defund” or “abolish the police” became popular among some activists after George Floyd died while in the custody of Minneapolis police in late May. Nationwide protests, riots, vandalism, and arson attacks were sparked following his death.
“It is time to make structural change,” Minneapolis Council Member Steve Fletcher told The Associated Press. “It is time to start from scratch and reinvent what public safety looks like.”
A draft amendment posted online suggests that the police force will be replaced with a “Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.” It didn’t elaborate on what that entails.
The proposed department would consist of peace officers and would ensure public safety through “a holistic, public health-oriented approach,” according to the city’s website. “The ordinance provides that the City may maintain a division of law enforcement services composed of licensed peace officers subject to the supervision of the Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention,” the website said.
Mayor Jacob Frey, a Democrat, earlier in the month told a crowd of protesters that he doesn’t support defunding or abolishing the department. A crowd of protesters then booed him and told him to leave the rally.
Last month, the mayor ordered a police station to evacuate as rioters burned the building to the ground.
Meanwhile, Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender told CNN that fear of abolishing the police—and calling 911 on a home intruder—”comes from a place of privilege.”
However, top Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and presidential candidate Joe Biden, said they don’t support the calls to “defund the police.”
The deadline for submitting questions about the election ballot is Aug. 21. The proposal, if approved by voters, would become law on May 1, 2021.