MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Former Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges says white liberal leaders need to embrace real, systemic change if there’s any hope of addressing the glaring racial disparities in America’s largest cities.
Additionally, she says white liberals, like herself, need to understand that police are currently doing their “dirty work.”
In an op-ed published Thursday in The New York Times, Hodges said that police officers are challenged with facing the on-the-ground realities of racial and economic inequality, which are the result of failed policies from liberal leaders.
“Whatever else you want to say about police officers, they know…we are asking them to step into a breach left by our bad policies,” she wrote, adding: “The status quo in cities, created by white liberals, invites brutal policing.”
It’s under such circumstances, the former mayor argues, that George Floyd was killed.
Hodges, who was mayor of Minneapolis from 2014 to 2018, believes that the current status quo in big-city policing prioritizes “white comfort” and “white property,” resulting in communities of color being aggressively patrolled. This increased police presence, she says, leads to an atmosphere of fear and regular abuses of power, too many of which are fatal.
To remedy the situation, large structural changes are needed, Hodges writes, such as affordable health care for all and an education system that works better for poor Americans. Public safety must also be overhauled.
In the article, she mentions the Minneapolis City Council’s effort to defund the city’s police department and replace it with another system of public safety. While Hodges doesn’t flat-out endorse the push, she said that any real change will require white people to “disinvest in the comfort of our status quo.”
Doing so, she writes, will eventually lead to a better world for both white people and people of color.
During her time as mayor, Hodges dealt with the occupation of the 4th Precinct police station following the Jamar Clark shooting. She ran for re-election in 2017. She lost to Jacob Frey, the current mayor.