Nine members of the Minneapolis City Council—enough to constitute a veto-proof supermajority—pledged to disband the Minneapolis police department on Sunday, as the city approached nearly two weeks of daily anti-police brutality protests following the killing of 46-year-old George Floyd at the hands of MPD officers.
The announcement was made at a community rally on Sunday. First reported by The Appeal, councilmembers said they plan on pulling funds from the MPD and shift them toward community-based strategies. Members of the city council say want to replace the police department but are still discussing exactly how to do so.
“We’re here because we hear you. We are here today because George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis Police. We are here because here in Minneapolis and in cities across the United States, it is clear that our existing system of policing and public safety is not keeping our communities safe,” Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender told demonstrators. “Our efforts at incremental reform have failed. Period.”
The announcement comes after several large entities—the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Public Schools, and Minneapolis Parks and Recreation decided to end their partnerships with the department.
As CNN reports, Bender and other members of the council reviewed records of 911 calls by constituents, finding most were for mental health services, health, and EMT and fire services.
Council Member Steve Fletcher, in a TIME op-ed published on Saturday, also raised MPD’s extensive history of misconduct, violence and discrimination. He highlighted that because of its record of abuses, the MPD is the focus of an ongoing Minnesota Department of Human Rights investigation.
“We can resolve confusion over a $20 grocery transaction without drawing a weapon or pulling out handcuffs,” Fletcher wrote.
Several statistics also point to the police department’s ineffectiveness in fulfilling the sorts of obligations one actually expects of police: investigating serious crimes and solving them. As The Appeal writes, MPD cleared only 56 percent of homicide cases last year. Their record for rape investigations has been even worse: In 2018, the department cleared less than a quarter (22 percent) of its rape cases. In 2019, MPD announced “the discovery of 1,700 untested rape kits spanning 30 years, which officials said had been misplaced,” according to the Appeal.
The announcement to dismantle the police department stands in stark contrast to Democratic Mayor Jacob Frey’s position on policing. Frey got booed out of a rally on Sunday after he refused to commit to defunding the police department. The mayor slunk out of the gathering as dozens of protesters shouted “Shame! Shame!” at him, receiving what sociologist, professor and writer Eve Ewing called, “the Cersei Special.”
Speaking to CNN later, Council President Bender doubled down on the council’s commitment to disbanding the MPD.
“(We need) to listen, especially to our black leaders, to our communities of color, for whom policing is not working and to really let the solutions lie in our community,” she said. “The idea of having no police department is certainly not in the short term.”