The City Council of Minneapolis declared racism a public health emergency on July 17, about two months after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody, and following measures that seek to defund the city’s police department.
The resolution seeks to decrease the incarceration rate while only making arrests for “violent and major crimes,” providing a “comprehensive rapid response protocol to immediate needs and long-term work to address systemic inequities,” and “easing and dismissing” cash bail. The text of the resolution didn’t say how those proposed measures would ameliorate problems such as gaps in homeownership, income, or increasing high school graduation rates.
Most of the Minneapolis City Council have already vowed to disband the local police department and replace it with a new model of public safety, although details about the new agency are not clear. Frey has publicly said he doesn’t want to abolish the city’s police force.
In June, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights filed a civil rights discrimination charge against the city’s police department and is investigating the department’s policies and practices.
City leaders and law enforcement officials have said that the months of COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, rising unemployment, and the fallout from mass protests over the Floyd killing have helped create conditions for a rise in violent crime in Minneapolis. A number of businesses were forced to shut down or leave during weeks of riots, looting, arson, and vandalism in the city.