Minneapolis city councilors backtrack on promise to dismantle the police

Members of the Minneapolis City Council are backtracking on their collapsed promise to dismantle the city's police department, with some councilors now saying the pledge was 'up for interpretation'. 

On June 7 the council released a pledge to dismantle the Minneapolis police department and replace it with a new community support and outreach system following the May 25 death of George Floyd. 

However, that effort was stalled in early August when the city’s Charter Commission voted to pause the amendment to dissolve and replace the police force and voted to take 90 more days to review it. 

Council members have revealed that they didn't state their intentions clearly and it caused confusion among officials, activists and the public.

Councilor Phillipe Cunningham said the language in the pledge was 'up for interpretation' and that even after the pledge was released, 'it was very clear that most of us had interpreted that language differently, according to New York Times report.

Members of the Minneapolis City Council are backtracking and revealing they have regrets on their collapsed promise to dismantle the city's police department, saying the pledge was 'up for interpretation'. BLM protesters pictured in Minneapolis on September 11

Members of the Minneapolis City Council are backtracking and revealing they have regrets on their collapsed promise to dismantle the city's police department, saying the pledge was 'up for interpretation'. BLM protesters pictured in Minneapolis on September 11

Critics are bashing officials for not working together and for failing to define whether the move means to abolish the police altogether or reallocate funds. A police fires tear gas and less-lethan rounds at protesters on May 29 in St. Paul, Minnesota at a George Floyd demonstration

Critics are bashing officials for not working together and for failing to define whether the move means to abolish the police altogether or reallocate funds. A police fires tear gas and less-lethan rounds at protesters on May 29 in St. Paul, Minnesota at a George Floyd demonstration

Councilor Andrew Johnson, one of the nine members who supported the pledge in June, said that he meant the words 'in spirit'. 

Council president Lisa Bender said: 'I think our pledge created confusion in the community and in our wards.' 

Elected officials have interpreted the pledge differently, some believing defunding the police means to redirect some money in the police budget to social programs and others thinking it means creating a police-free future.

The move to dismantle the police has faced significant legislative hurdles as it has been rejected by the city’s mayor, a plurality of residents in public opinion polls, and the city's Charter Commission. 

Previous hopes to have the move to dissolve the department on this November's ballots have been dashed.  

Now taking its place is incremental reforms for the police department. 

Since the May 25 killing of Floyd, Minneapolis has banned chokeholds, enacted new de-escalation requirements and changed reporting measures for the use of force.

City Council member Linea Palmisano, who was one of the three councilors who did not take the pledge, admonished her colleagues for rushing the pledge saying they 'have gotten used to these kinds of progressive purity tests.'

But some activists still believe that pledge should seek to completely abolish the police department. 

'What kind of violence are we going to experience over the next year? When these decisions a re made on a political level, they have human consequences,' Miski Noor, an organizer with Black Visions Collective, said.

'I think the initial announcement created a certain level of confusion from residents at a time when the city really needed that stability,' Mayor Jacob Frey, who refused to support the pledge, said.

'I also think that the declaration itself meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people — and that included a healthy share of activists that were anticipating abolition,' he added.

Minneapolis City Council members above. On June 7 the council released a pledge to dismantle the police force but in August the move was paused by the city's Charter Commission who asked for 90 more days to review the plan, meaning it won't be on this November's ballot

Minneapolis City Council members above. On June 7 the council released a pledge to dismantle the police force but in August the move was paused by the city's Charter Commission who asked for 90 more days to review the plan, meaning it won't be on this November's ballot

Councilor Andrew Johnson (left) said he meant the words of the pledge 'in spirit'.

Council president Lisa Bender said: 'I think our pledge created confusion in the community and in our wards.'

Councilor Andrew Johnson  (left) said he meant the words of the pledge 'in spirit'. Council president Lisa Bender (right) said: 'I think our pledge created confusion in the community and in our wards'

In the wake of Floyd’s death and national uproar against police brutality and systemic racism, gun violence has surged in the embattled city this summer.

Some communities are worried of how the policing system will continue to function in the city.

Cathy Spann, a community activist in North Minneapolis, an area home to many of the city’s black residents, says that black and brown communities are paying the price for the political stall.

She is in favor of adding more police officers on the streets.

'They didn’t engage black and brown people. And something about that does not sit right with me. Something about saying to the community, "We need to make change together" but instead you leave this community and me unsafe,' she said.

Minneapolis has a long history with police violence and incremental changes within the force.

But to many reforms like body cameras and

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