After a week and a half of national and global demonstrations protesting George Floyd’s death and uplifting the Black Lives Matter movement, nine members of the Minneapolis City Council on Sunday declared their intent to abolish the city’s police department. The nine-person majority behind this action, of 12 members total, presented the public with their veto-proof decision during a rally held by social justice organizations Reclaim the Block and Black Visions Collective at Minneapolis’ Powderhorn Park. The council members, all of whom individually took to the mic to express their support for disbanding the Minneapolis Police Department, noted in a released statement that “We will be taking intermediate steps towards ending the MPD through the budget process and other policy and budget decisions over the coming weeks and months.”
The ultimate goal, according to the council, is to abolish the MPD entirely, which is still in it’s early stages. However, they detailed that the first steps to this include a commitment to listening to the community about what would better serve them, including listening to what residents think a “police-free future” looks like and engaging with community members “over the next year to identify what safety looks like for everyone.”
The proposal of defunding, or abolishing, the police has been a common one during this period of nationwide protests. With informational posts explaining what that entails floating around social media and being shared by various celebrities, it’s becoming increasingly more mainstream to propose a society where a city’s police department doesn’t receive an overwhelmingly large budget, while other resources — from education to the arts — receive cuts.
It’s not, however, an uncommon thought to wonder that, should a city succeed in defunding or abolishing their police departments, what would protection look like under that new normal. Advocates for defunding and abolishing police have called for putting that money back into the community, specifically having mental health experts or social services called to instances where police departments are usually the first ones at the scene.
Cities across the U.S., not just Minneapolis, are continuing to discuss what defunding and/or abolishing their police forces would look like should that proposal be considered. New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday even announced that he intended to reallocate “significant savings in the NYPD budget” and put them towards “youth development and social services for communities of color” over the next 18 months, another small step in the plan to protect communities of all backgrounds in cities across the U.S.
However, de Blasio, much like many city mayors, are apprehensive to fall in line with the idea that defunding the police could solve widespread problems with systematic racism. Ultimately, the debate comes down to two very different answers: are we willing to try police reform, yet again, or are we willing to revamp security systems in the U.S., city by city, and reimagine what our country would look like without one monitoring system that answers to 9-1-1 calls.