The Minneapolis Charter Commission on Wednesday blocked the possibility of a November ballot measure for voters to decide whether to disband the city police department.
Members of the commission claimed the potential ballot item was rushed, the amendment itself was flawed and the proposal gave the city council too much power, according to the Associated Press.
The commission also said input from community members who may not have supported the proposal wasn’t properly considered, AP reported.
“It’s appropriate to explore transformational changes in the department, but it needs to be done thoughtfully,” Commissioner Peter Ginder, who voted to suspend the November item, told the AP. “That hasn’t been done here.”
Five city council members authored the proposal for voters to decide the fate of the Minneapolis Police Department following the death of George Floyd.
The commission voted 10-5 to take 90 days to reconsider the amendment.
City council member Jeremiah Ellison, son of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, was an outspoken proponent of dismantling the police department following Floyd’s death.
Ellison, one of the five who authored the ballot item, called the commission’s decision undemocratic.
“It is not our legacy to use bureaucratic processes to circumvent the people in an attempt to ‘protect’ voters from themselves,” Jeremiah Ellison told the AP.
The people should’ve been allowed to vote on the future of Public Safety in Minneapolis
It is our legacy in the US to use voting to decide our future
It is *not* our legacy to use bureaucratic processes to circumvent the people in an attempt to ‘protect’ voters from themselves
— Jeremiah Ellison (@jeremiah4north) August 6, 2020
“That is not democracy. In a democracy, the people decide. But I guess today the Charter Commission decided otherwise.”
The city council member said it was “past due” to “dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department” in a June tweet.
We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department.
And when we’re done, we’re not simply gonna glue it back together.
We are going to dramatically rethink how we approach public safety and emergency response.
It’s really past due. https://t.co/7WIxUL6W79
— Jeremiah Ellison (@jeremiah4north) June 4, 2020
The November item would have effectively replaced police with a “Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention,” which was vaguely described as taking a more “holistic” approach to policing.
Licensed armed officers would still be allowed to patrol the streets under the changes, the AP reported.
“There is no democracy denied here. There is no denial of democratic rights. It’s a question of when, not if,” Commissioner Gregory Abbott told the AP.
“We can fix this. We can get police reform. We just need to find a different avenue to do it in.”
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