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Minneapolis residents to likely vote in November on future of city’s police department

A group that wants to create a new public safety department has gathered enough signatures to make the ballot

Police Chief Medaria Arradondo Mayor Jacob Frey

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo speaks at a press conference August 26, 2020, in Minneapolis.

Jerry Holt/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS

By Liz Navratil
Star Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis residents will likely vote in November on whether to replace the city’s Police Department, offering their most significant chance to weigh in on public safety issues since George Floyd’s death.

The city clerk’s office announced Friday morning that a new political committee called Yes 4 Minneapolis gathered enough signatures to place a proposal on the November ballot.

The group wants voters to approve a plan to create a new public safety department that could include police “if necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the department.”

The plan would also eliminate the requirement to keep a minimum number of officers based on the city’s population and eliminate the mayor’s “complete power” over police operations, granting the City Council more sway over officers.

For the changes to take effect, 51% of voters would need to approve the plan in the election this fall, when they will also vote for mayor and City Council.

Earlier this year, Yes 4 Minneapolis launched a campaign to gather signatures supporting its proposal and seeking to have it placed on the ballot. The group collected roughly 20,000 signatures, and the clerk’s office — after cross referencing the names with voter records held by the Minnesota secretary of state’s office — determined that 14,101 of them were valid. The group needed to collect 11,906 signatures to place the question on the ballot.

The city attorney’s office will now conduct a review to determine whether the proposal is constitutional and whether it’s relevant to the city charter, which serves as its constitution. If it meets those legal tests, the city council and mayor will determine the wording that appears on the ballot. They are not permitted to change the substance of the proposal itself.

In the days after Floyd’s death, protesters, including some from local activist group Black Visions, called on local officials to abolish the city’s Police Department. Other residents organized to push the city to boost police staffing amid an increase in violent crime and a wave of officer resignations and PTSD claims.

This fall, Yes 4 Minneapolis registered in Hennepin County. The group describes itself as a Black-led campaign whose coalition includes members such as Black Visions, Reclaim the Block and Take Action Minnesota.

The Yes 4 Minneapolis committee was boosted by a $500,000 donation from the Washington, D.C.-based Open Society Policy Center, the lobbying arm of the Open Society Foundations, a philanthropic group founded by billionaire George Soros.

A trio of City Council members — Phillipe Cunningham, Steve Fletcher and Jeremy Schroeder — have written a similar proposal to replace the Police Department. Under their proposal, which would also require approval from voters, the new department would be required to have a law enforcement services division that employs police.

(c)2021 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)