A majority of the City Council for Minneapolis, in the US, has pledged to dismantle the local police department, a significant move following the police killing of George Floyd’s that happened last month
Nine of the 13 councillors for Minneapolis have said that a “new model of public safety” would be created in the city in which law enforcement has been accused of harbouring systemic racism.
Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, opposed the move made by the city council, drawing much criticism from city residents, as well boos from the crowds that gathered to hear the Mayor speak.
Activists have called this unprecedented move a turning point, after years of having demanded such a step.
But many have said that Minneapolis can now expect a long and complicated debate over policing in the city, and it remains unclear what form the new structural reforms will take.
This comes after protesters all across the US have clashed with police at protests following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who pleaded with a white officer who was kneeling on his neck during an arrest, saying that he could not breathe.
Former police officer, Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Mr Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, has been dismissed from his job in the police force, and has now been charged with second-degree murder, following previous charges of murder in the third-degree; he is set to make his first court appearance on Monday.
The three other former police officers who were at the scene of the killing have also lost their jobs and have been charged with aiding and abetting murder.
City Council President Lisa Bender was quoted as saying:
“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,”
“Our efforts at incremental reform have failed. Period.”
Ms Bender has said details of the large-scale reforming plan will need to be discussed by the city council further and also saying that she would try to shift funding for the police force towards more community-developmental based strategies.
Meanwhile, city councillor Alondra Cano has tweeted that “a veto-proof majority” in the council had agreed that the city’s police department was “not reformable and that we’re going to end the current policing system”.
Last week, Governor Tim Walz said that he wanted to root out “systemic racism that is generations deep”, as Minnesota launched a civil rights investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department.
The Minneapolis city council later voted for a number of policing changes while the force is still in its current state, including the ban on neck restraints and choke-holds to be used by police officers.
This news comes after the Australian embassy in Washington DC has reached out to the US State Department after an Australian reporter from Network Seven, as well as a camera operator, were attacked by police amid the protests outside the White House.
The plans for police reform in Minneapolis set up what is likely to be a complex discussion in regards to policing all across the United States. But the process of enacting a new system will most likely take months and is not guaranteed due to the Mayor’s opposition to the plans.
In response to the announcement from the city council, the director of the Minnesota-based campaign group Black Vision, Kandace Montgomery said:
“It shouldn’t have taken so much death to get us here. We’re safer without armed, unaccountable patrols supported by the state hunting black people.”