Minneapolis Residents Sue City for Lack of Police Protection: ‘Our Lives Are Becoming Unlivable’

October 20, 2020 Updated: October 20, 2020

A group of Minneapolis residents and community leaders suing the city over lack of police protection on Monday argued their case before a county judge.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs said Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minneapolis City Council’s push to “defund” and “disband” the city’s police department has made their neighborhood dangerous. All eight of them live on Minneapolis’s North Side, which has a higher concentration of violent crime compared to other parts of the city.

“Every single night on any block in this neighborhood you can hear gunshots!” said Cathy Spann of the North Side, reported CBS Minnesota. “Every single freaking night!”

James Dickey, the plaintiffs’ attorney, argued that the city’s police force has become depleted to the point that it can’t provide the minimum level of protection required by the city’s charter. According to the city’s charter, the city council “must fund a police force of at least 0.0017 employees per resident,” meaning that the city, with a population of 425,000, needs roughly 730 police officers.

“We didn’t get anything we think from the city, and their affidavits they provided or today in court that would actually indicate that they have enough police on the force to keep Minneapolis safe, according to the city charter,” Dickey said, adding that officers are quitting, retiring, and taking medical leave in unprecedented numbers without replacement.

A month after the death of George Floyd in the custody of four Minneapolis police officers and the ensuing riots, the city council unanimously voted to redirect $1.1 million from law enforcement to the health department. A proposal to allow voters to decide whether to dismantle the police department was also forwarded, but the City Charter Commission voted in August to keep the question off November’s ballot.

“Now these are extraordinary times, when violence upticks to the point where our lives are becoming unlivable,” said plaintiff and former councilman Don Samuels, reported FOX 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul. “We’ve heard gunshots on a nightly basis, our children cannot go outside to play. We’re trapped inside in addition to COVID isolation that’s taking place.”

“We have made the emotional appeal,” he continued. “We have demonstrated the statistical uptick and now this is the legal action we are exercising because it seems as if the City Council cannot hear us and doesn’t feel what we feel.”

Hennepin County Judge Jamie Anderson did not make a ruling on Monday. She is expected to issue a decision about the plaintiff’s request within the next three months.