Minneapolis announces it will disband its police department

The Minneapolis City Council has voted in favour of dismantling the police department and instead investing in proven community-led public safety programs.

The move comes after almost two weeks of protests across the US following the death of George Floyd and calls from activists to “defund the police”. 

george floyd defund police minneapolis counci
Photo: Matt York/AP

The Minneapolis City Council has pledged to disband its police department and move forward with community-led public safety programs.

Following a majority vote on Sunday, the Minneapolis City Council revealed the news which came after an announcement on Friday in which the council banned the use of police chokeholds and neck restraints.

Speaking on the latest decision, City Council President Lisa Bender described that the decision was made in order to “end our city’s toxic relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department.”

“We’re here because we hear you,” she continued. “We are here today because George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis Police. 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.” 

“Our efforts at incremental reform have failed. Period,” Bender added.

The historic decision comes after the police department has already seen a loss of support from much of the community, including other high profile partners such as Minneapolis Public Schools, the University of Minnesota, and Minneapolis Parks and Recreation.

Whilst it’s not yet clear what the new community-led public safety program will look like, Bender has announced that the council will begin by starting a conversation with the community.

Council Member Jeremiah Ellison added that the council would “dramatically rethink how we approach public safety and emergency response”:

Last week, fellow Council Member Steve Fletcher also published an opinion piece on Time, in which he outlined the “decades-long history of violence and discrimination” of the Minneapolis Police Department, arguing for its disbanding: “We can resolve confusion over a $20 grocery transaction without drawing a weapon or pulling out handcuffs.”

The decision marks the first major victory for the movement to defund the police following George Floyd’s death on May 25.