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Following the Minneapolis police murdering unarmed Black man George Floyd, nationwide protests have called for the roughly 17,000 police departments throughout the country to be defunded and, in some places, abolished. Over the weekend, the Minneapolis city council announced its intent to push for full police abolishment.
At a rally on Sunday, the Minneapolis city council issued a joint statement expressing its beliefs that no prior reforms have successfully kept police officers accountable for their actions. Therefore, the city council members said, abolishing the police is the only feasible solution. Currently, nine of the city council’s 13 members support police abolition, giving the measure a veto-proof majority.
Despite the council’s veto-proof majority, Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey has twice voiced his disagreement with abolishing the police. At a protest Saturday, attendees loudly shamed Frey for voicing this opinion, which he expressed again during a Monday morning TV interview. Though Frey said that he supports massive reform measures to ensure that police are held accountable for using excessive force, he reiterated that he does not believe in abolition. Frey said he instead hopes to work with the Minneapolis city council, despite its veto-proof majority in favor of abolition, to come up with a different solution.
Although the official Minneapolis city council vote on abolishing the police has not yet occurred, the council has taken stopgap measures that may temporarily reduce the city’s rates of police violence. On Friday, the council voted to ban officers from using chokeholds and issued new guidance requiring officers to intervene when other officers use excessive force.
The latter of these new rules may come as a direct response to video footage of George Floyd’s murder. In the video, three Minneapolis Police Department officers are seen standing by and not interfering as their fellow officer, Derek Chauvin, holds his knee to George Floyd’s throat and suffocates him. Chauvin was fired, arrested, and charged with third-degree murder shortly after Floyd’s killing. Late last week, Chauvin’s charge was increased to second-degree murder, and the remaining three officers were fired, arrested, and charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Since declaring their intent to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department, some Minneapolis city council members have spoken further on the matter. In a local TV interview, Minneapolis city councilmember Jeremiah Ellison discussed how abolition proceedings could move forward. Ellison noted that the current decision to defund the police is only the starting point for the council’s plans. He predicted that the city council will move to defund the police department in the coming weeks or months and devise an alternative over roughly the next year. He also pointed to the city’s coronavirus-induced budgetary shortfall as a potential obstacle.
Although the Minneapolis city council is largely in support of police abolition, not all political figures feel the same. President Trump has continued to take an especially strong stance in favor of “law and order,” and on Monday morning, he tweeted in favor of this mindset instead of police abolition. “The Radical Left Democrats have gone crazy!” read Trump’s tweet. Recent polls have suggested that Trump’s handling of the ongoing protests may have decreased his popularity among American voters.