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Minneapolis City Council members realize police are important, pull back efforts to abolish department

The Minneapolis City Council’s attempt to defund or abolish the city’s police department appears to have lost momentum as the highly charged emotion after George Floyd’s death in May gives way to the reality of how important a police department is to public safety, according to the Star Tribune.

In the aftermath of Floyd’s death while being restrained by Minneapolis Police, the city council voted in favor of a commitment to replace the police department with another form of public safety. That effort failed to get on the November ballot, however, mostly due to a lack of detail on what would replace the police.

The obstacles have forced some city council members to face the fact that creating policy around the anti-police movement is more difficult than it may have appeared during the peak of protests and unrest in the city.

“I think when you take a statement and then move into policy work, it gets more complicated,” City Council President Lisa Bender told the Star Tribune.

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As it turns out, while there was significant anger toward Minneapolis police after an officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest, many residents of the city still want armed, trained police officers on call to respond to dangerous situations. Even some who want significant reform of the police department feel the idea of abolishing it altogether is extreme and unhelpful in solving the problem.

The Star Tribune reported:

Others wonder if the council already squandered the moment, by taking such a drastic stance that it alienated some who would otherwise support substantial reform.

“They really did miss the opportunity to create actual change,” said Michelle Gross, of Communities United Against Police Brutality. “It’s almost as if changing the police is a bad word, and you’re supposed to be talking instead about getting rid of police.”

In the days following Floyd’s death, council members fielded a flood of messages from constituents, some demanding they abolish police and others wondering why their 911 calls were going unanswered.

Efforts to defund the police in Seattle also stalled in the months after intense protests that included a literal occupation of nine city blocks and a police precinct. The city council voted to slash the police budget significantly, potentially resulting in the loss of 100 officers. However, Mayor Jenny Durkan vetoed that proposal. Durkan said she vetoed it due to a lack of planning for how to compensate for the loss of that much of the police force.

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