MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minneapolis City Council began talking about the future of the police force around 10 p.m. Wednesday night. Some city council members want to shrink the budget and number of police officers by redirecting nearly $8 million to programs like mental health response. But the mayor has threatened to veto it if passed.

This discussion began after five and a half hours of speakers during public comment on the topic. The call for change in Minneapolis followed the death of George Floyd in late May.

More than 300 people weighed in. Some supported Mayor Jacob Frey’s budget, calling any cuts irresponsible in this climate, that the notion of defunding the police has only emboldened criminals.

Others relayed negative experiences with police. They urged council members to act courageously and follow through with decreasing the police budget, and not to give in to the Mayor’s threat to veto.

“The city council is listening to bullies. They’re not listening to all of their constituents. If you cut police down by any more than what you have out there right now, it’s going to be a tragedy to see that happen,” Lisa Clemons, with A Mother’s Love, said.

“Time and time again we’ve seen programs similar to what Mayor Frey has proposed are unsuccessful in creating impactful change,” Paisley Rodriguez said.

“I’ve been involved in Minneapolis politics and civic affairs for over 40 years. I’ve never seen anything like this level of engagement from all different perspectives,” Steve Cramer, with the Minneapolis Downtown Council, said.

There was roughly a 20-minute break after the public hearing wrapped up before the council began discussing the budget.

Exercising veto power is a move that’s rare in local government. Attorney Joe Tamburino said about whether it could go forward.

“The only way it could get resolved tonight is if the city council agreed with the mayor. If they don’t, then the ball will be in the mayor’s court as to whether he should veto,” Tamburino said.

If that happens, the budget goes back to the Minneapolis City Council to see if they have enough votes to override the veto. The meeting was still going at the time this article was written.

Jennifer Mayerle