MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Voters are deciding important city and school elections all across the area, but it’s Minneapolis that’s in the national spotlight this Election Day.
It was in Minneapolis where riots and unrest followed the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who has since been convicted in Floyd’s death. Ten days after the incident, nine Minneapolis City Council members stood on a stage supporting the defunding of the police.READ MORE: Bird Flu Cases Drop As Temperatures Warm, But Experts Warn Cases Could Rise Again In The Fall
All told, 1,500 businesses were destroyed in the riots. By one estimate, only 21% are back. Business owners and workers along Lake Street WCCO spoke with all said they’re against the ballot question to remove the MPD requirement in the city’s charter.
Tuesday’s vote on that very question is being watched across the country. The amendment passing would serve as a model for other progressive cities and be a big talking point for Republicans. If it doesn’t pass, it would be a major blow in one of the most liberal and progressive cities in the country.
As people cast their ballots, some said they feel the burden of voting in the national spotlight. It’s a decision that effects every single person who lives, works or plays in Minneapolis. Who will answer if they call for help? Who would keep the city safe?
North Minneapolis voter John Martin says the MPD needs to remain in place.
“I don’t quite understand it, and they don’t have a plan. They just put it on the ballot and don’t have a plan,” he said.READ MORE: Ex-MPD Officer Thomas Lane Pleads Guilty In State Trial Over George Floyd's Killing, Agrees To Serve 3 Years
South Minneapolis voter Carol Karus agreed.
“I said no on that because I don’t think we should get rid of the police department,” she said.
However, in central Minneapolis, voter Eric Romano said it’s time for a change. He said he supports the push to make a new public safety department.
“Obviously the city has gone through a lot, but I believe that it’s worth a chance to give another option, or some other perspective to address the issues that we have,” he said. “I believe a public safety department should be committed to living in the city as well as caring about the city.”
Back on the northside, the pastor of the church that has held funeral after funeral says he’s using his voice outside the pulpit.
“We need our police department, and it does need reform,” Bishop Richard Howell Jr. said. “To just defund the police or to remove our police chief at this point, at this juncture, doesn’t make any sense at all.”
One thing is clear: people are fired up and invested. At one polling place WCCO visited, the last municipal election had about 42% turnout; as of 5 p.m., they were at about 75%.MORE NEWS: Next Weather: Severe Thunderstorm Watch For Northern Minnesota Until 8 P.M.