Minneapolis votes to keep its police department

Midwest

(NewsNation Now) — Voters in Minneapolis have decided to reject a proposal to replace the city’s police department with a new Department of Public Safety.

More than 56% of voters rejected the measure, according to the Associated Press.

The future of policing in the city where Floyd’s death in May 2020 launched a nationwide reckoning on racial justice overshadowed everything on the municipal ballot. The debate brought national attention to the election, as well as a river of out-of-state money seeking to influence a contest that could shape changes in policing elsewhere, too.

Supporters of the bill argued that police would remain on their jobs, though perhaps in smaller numbers. They say the change could have approached safety in a holistic manner, including addressing the root causes of crime before it takes place.

Opponents say the ballot proposal would make good on the city council’s threat in the days after Floyd’s death to “defund the police.” They say Minneapolis, with a population of about 430,000 people, needs more officers, not fewer, as it grapples with a crime wave.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo opposes the measure. Mayor Jacob Frey, who is seeking reelection Tuesday, is also against it.

Two nationally prominent progressive Democratic leaders — U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, who represents the Minneapolis area, and state Attorney General Keith Ellison — both supported the policing amendment. But some leading mainstream liberals, including Gov. Tim Walz and U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, opposed it and feared the backlash could lead to Democratic losses across the country in 2022.

Support didn’t cleanly follow racial lines. Opponents included several prominent Black leaders, including some who have been top voices in the police accountability movement.

Minister JaNaé Bates, a spokeswoman for the pro-amendment campaign, told reporters Monday that even if the proposal fails, the activists behind it have changed the conversation around public safety.

“No matter what happens, the city of Minneapolis is going to have to move forward and really wrestle with what we cannot unknow: that the Minneapolis Police Department has been able to operate with impunity and has done quite a bit of harm and the city has to take some serious steps to rectify that,” Bates said.

The city’s police force is down by nearly 300 officers following Floyd’s murder, and the department has reported nearly 80 homicides so far this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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