Minnesota Supreme Court could overturn Minneapolis poll initiative to abolish police


George Floyd Square in Minneapolis (AP)

On the eve of municipal elections, the Minnesota Supreme Court could overturn Minneapolis’ plan to have residents vote on replacing its police force with a new holistic public safety agency.

It’s yet another blow to the city’s long campaign to reform the city’s police force following the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, and one of the nation’s most publicized efforts to abolish or fund the police.

Minneapolis City Council has asked the court to appeal, after a county judge rejected language of a proposed voting measure that, if approved, would remove the requirement for a Minneapolis police force from the city’s constitution.

On Tuesday, Hennepin County Judge Jaime Anderson ruled that the language of the ballot was “an under-identified and misleading issue on the ballot,” the third time she has rejected the proposed measure.

Police reform activists and activists, who spent months collecting 20,000 signatures to pose the question to voters in Minneapolis, were outraged by the decision.

“For them, this group of people, to tear off something for which 22,000 people fought for, for which 100,000 others have said they are ready, it is odious! It is completely undemocratic!” Reverend Janae Bates, one of the Yes 4 Minneapolis coalition leaders pushing for the measure, said after the decision. “The reality is that Justice Anderson took something that should have been legal and procedural and made it political.”

The county has already printed 350,000 ballots in the language that was invalidated, and postal voting in municipal elections begins Friday.

Those disputing the language in the measurement of the vote include real estate developer Bruce Dachis; Don Samuels, a former member of the city council; and his wife Sondra, responsible for the Northside Achievement Zone nonprofit, for which the wife of the mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey is a lobbyist.

“I’m a black mother! That’s why I wanted the ballot to speak fairly about what it was doing,” Sondra Samuels told reporters on Wednesday, saying she still wanted police reform, which is possible under the current governance structure of the Minneapolis Police and Police Chief. Medaria Arradondo. “Because we think we want reform, but it must be in participation with the police chief Arradondo. And with the police officers who are not all Chauvin.”

The wording of the disputed ballot contained an explanatory note, detailing how, under the proposed charter amendment, the City of Minneapolis constitution would no longer be required to have a police department with a minimum level of funding. Instead, the department would be replaced by a public security agency, with the city council exercising greater control over its policies and leadership.

“This amendment would create a Ministry of Public Security combining public security functions through a comprehensive public health approach to be determined by the mayor and the council,” he said. “The ministry would be headed by a commissioner appointed by the mayor and appointed by the council. The police department and its chief would be removed from the city charter. The public security service could include police officers, but the minimum funding requirement would be removed.

After the lower court ruling, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who has made police reform a top priority but has a controversial relationship with the council and justice activists, said he remained “categorically opposed”To the charter amendment, but still wanted voters to have a say in it.

The decision to jeopardize the ballot issue was also condemned by national leaders. US Congressman Illhan Omar, who represents parts of Minneapolis, criticized the decision at a town hall on Tuesday.

“We have people who pay so much money to make us slaves to a charter that the majority of us [oppose], ” she said. “This is the opposite of what democracy should produce. People had a vision of what they wanted, and there is a judge, there is a mayor, there is a police chief, and their friends. wealthy people who tell us we can’t have a city flexible to our needs and demands. Otherwise, how are we supposed to progress if we can’t? “

Shortly after George Floyd’s assassination, sparking a nationwide civil rights uprising, activists began to push to replace the Minneapolis Police Department entirely with a more holistic and less violent police department.

At a rally last June, the city council created a national shockwave, promising to end its “toxic relationship” with the MPD.

“Our commitment is to end our city’s toxic relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department, to end the police as we know it, and to recreate public safety systems that actually protect us,” Lisa said. Bender, president of the Minneapolis City Council. said at the time.

Since then, the city’s charter commission, an unelected body that advises on charter matters, consideration of the issue of the stalled ballot until the end of last year’s municipal elections, and efforts to suppress the MPD have run into obstacles in court since then.

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