MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Minneapolis residents on Tuesday voted against a proposed amendment that would have removed the city’s police department from the city charter and replaced it with a Department of Public Safety.
The vote means the Minneapolis Police Department will still be required by the city charter and no Department of Public Safety will be created.
The vote after all 136 precincts’ reporting was tabulated was 56% against, and 44% for. Charter amendment questions require 51% or more of the votes cast on each question to pass.
Supporters of the proposal said a complete overhaul of policing was necessary to stop police violence. Opponents said the proposal had no concrete plan for how to move forward and could make communities already affected by violence more vulnerable as crime is on the rise.
Incumbent Mayor Jacob Frey who was re-elected to the position, was a fierce opponent of the ballot question, prompting a back-and-forth between the city council this summer as he vetoed the question’s language, and the council overrode his veto.
He faced 16 opponents in the race from challengers who criticized his response after the death of George Floyd. But he was steadfast in his “both-and” approach, saying that the city needed both police and reform.
Four of Minneapolis’ city council members who backed the ballot question were ousted – Phillipe Cunningham of Ward 4 was defeated by opponent LaTrisha Vetaw, and Emily Koski of Ward 11 unseated Jeremy Schroeder. Steve Fletcher was defeated in Ward 2 by Michael Rainville, and Cam Gordon was defeated in Ward 3 by Robin Wonsley Worlobah.
Supporter Jeremiah Ellison of Ward 5 fought a tight race to keep his seat.
The exception however was in Ward 9 where Jason Chavez, who advocated for the Department of Public Safety, claimed the seat vacated by Alondra Cano. In Ward 1, Kevin Reich, who did not pledge to defund the police, was defeated by Elliott Payne.
“The ‘no’ campaign was clear on what they were selling. They were saying ‘both-and, we wanted both police and reform’,” said political analyst and DFL strategist Abou Amara. “Whereas the ‘yes’ campaign was having to sell a vision that people couldn’t look at and say ‘what’s the substance that I’m voting on?'”
Yes 4 Minneapolis, the coalition which worked to get the public safety question on the ballot said the result was not what they hoped for, but the group will “work to heal” the city.
“We changed the conversation about what public safety should look like. We showed the country and the world the power of democracy and the power of the people. Now, we will work to hold leaders and the system accountable,” said Yes 4 Minneapolis campaign manager Corenia Smith.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, a high-profile Democratic supporter of the “yes” campaign, said that while his side lost, now is the time for healing, reflection and policing reform.
“[The ballot measure] didn’t win, but it gathered substantial votes. ‘No’ voters prevailed, but many also want meaningful reform. So, let’s get to it,” He wrote on Twitter. “Let’s pass what we agree on, and make policing in Minneapolis effective and humane.”
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Police Department is seeking $27 million in funding to address a “staggering” number of police officer departures as violent crime surges in the city. Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said there are 598 active sworn officers this year compared to 853 in 2019. The budget proposal calls for increased funding to rebuild core services.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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