Daily Reformer: “Abolish” police movement has momentum, but what is it?

A mural signed by Adam Turman at Uptown Theatre on Hennepin Avenue South. Photo by Hannah Black/Minnesota Reformer.

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A veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council signed a pledge to “begin the process of ending the Minneapolis Police Department.” Strib: 

While some council members have provided hints of what the changes might mean — sending mental health professionals or social workers to respond to certain emergencies, for example — the group did not present a single, unified vision for how they would replace policing in Minneapolis. 

There’s confusion about what “defunding” or “abolishing” the police means, and the council members didn’t help Sunday. (See this thread for more.) There’s a fair amount of research and advocacy around the idea of shifting significant resources from policing to other modes of public safety. (Think of all the calls we send police on that are actually for untreated mental illness and/or substance abuse issues — unfair to police and the people they are policing.) You can read more about it here and here

The events of the past two weeks have created a golden opportunity for deep structural reform (“abolish” police activists don’t like this word but you can imagine why I’m partial to it here at Reformer HQ.) The public — traditionally strong supporters of police, according to polls — is more ready than ever. Libor Jany and Andy Mannix had a blockbuster story over the weekend that gave them more reason to be, reporting that the now infamous 3rd Precinct had become a kind of playground for “renegade” cops. 

If the council can get it right on both the policy and the politics, they could be creating a model that would fundamentally change the relationship between Americans — and Black Americans especially — and their government, which has historically too often been based in domination and social control

Minneapolis is a fairly safe city relative to other major metros, but there were more than 3,300 homicides, robberies, rapes and aggravated assaults in 2018, and people of color in a handful of poor neighborhoods are more likely to be victims of this violent crime. To say nothing of burglaries and car theft and other property crimes. Say what you will about root causes, but those crimes occurred and they’re not disappearing just because you shift resources from police operations to social programming, at least not in the short term. (Though if you read the Strib’s series on the shoddy investigations of sexual assault, you’ll see those survivors weren’t getting justice either.)

Sure hope the council has victims of those crimes squarely in their minds when they make the changes.

What are your thoughts? [email protected] 

In the Reformer today, Rilyn Eischens has a great piece of data journalism on the disparities between Black and white Minnesotans in income, housing, education and criminal justice. Two Minnesotas. Haven’t we been admiring this problem long enough?

New contributor Dwight Hobbes, who lived through the 60s riots, argues that two things can be true at once: We need justice for George Floyd, and destroying a pharmacy and looting a liquor store did nothing to make that possible. 

And contributor Hannah Black roamed the city in search of murals and found some great ones

Seeing these photos and a few more while I was out and about this weekend got me to thinking: Can’t we just decide we’re going to be the cities of murals? Can’t we pay artists to go around the city and do more of them? 

For a variety of reasons too complicated to get into here, our cities — and this is not a Twin Cities phenomenon specifically — are often ugly. The buildings are dull. We built freeways through neighborhoods. Junk like billboards and powerlines clog up the visual field. And yet we have in our power the ability to make a canvas of our cities. We keep our art in safely secured museums, and they’re great. But we ought to bring the art outside. I realize there’s a fair amount of public art in our cities, but I’m saying we need more of it. Lots more of it. A small amount of money would go a long way in this realm. 

(My $0.02)

Fired and now charged Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin voted in Florida in 2016 and 2018, a Florida lawyer has alleged to state’s prosecutor down there. (Strib.) A source notes that a reason to vote in Florida would be to establish residency. Why do that? Maybe to avoid Minnesota income taxes. 

cc: MN Revenue Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly. 

Correspond: [email protected]

Have a great day all! JPC