As the Twin Cities area faces a round of rioting even before the verdict in the case of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of murdering George Floyd while he was in police custody, the Minneapolis City Council is demanding police not use non-lethal riot control tools.
In an 11-1 vote Friday, the council passed a resolution opposing use of “less lethal” methods of crowd control like tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The move comes as the nearby city of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, has been engulfed in violent protests for the better part of a week following the apparently accidental shooting death of motorist Daunte Wright.
KMSP-TV reported that 3,000 National Guard troops have been dispatched to the area and have used crowd dispersal methods like gas and non-lethal munitions on rioters.
Yet, Minneapolis Council Member Jeremiah Ellison said Friday he’s never seen non-lethal force disperse a crowd and that the tactics were “consistently misused” over the past year.
“They’ve always sort of bubbled into more chaotic situations and they’ve always created the atmosphere for folks to be … enraged,” Ellison said.
It’s worth noting this wasn’t a ban on non-lethal weapons, but instead a “statement of values” calling on police to “end the use” of them. The City Council doesn’t have the power to order police not to use the methods, with the city’s charter vesting the mayor with “complete power” over the Minneapolis Police Department’s operations.
Don’t expect Mayor Jacob Frey to act on this, either, given he was displeased with the resolution, which would undoubtedly place Minnesota citizens in even more danger if it actually had the force of law.
“Right now, I’ll tell you the city does not need more bickering,” Frey said in an interview, acording to the Star Tribune, questioning the City Council’s decision to wait until just before the close of the Chauvin trial to act. “We need unity.”
Frey also backed Minneapolis Police Department Chief Medaria Arradondo, who also blasted the City Council’s decision.
“I think that the City Council’s resolution action was both unhelpful and uninformed, but it also emboldens those individuals who … are here to strike harm and chaos and destroy our city,” Arradondo said.
During an interview with the Star Tribune, Arradondo pointed to an instance during last year’s riots where police used the dispersal tactics to clear rioters and save a stabbing victim in the parking lot of a Target being looted.
“If you’re asking officers who are sworn to save lives, you’re asking them to go into an unruly crowd of hundreds and you’re asking them to do that with just their gun on their side and a baton, I think it is reasonable to predict there’s a higher risk of the officer being injured or a community member,” Arradondo said.
The City Council members, meanwhile, called out Frey for not attending the meeting and for issuing an emergency declaration and putting curfews in place.
In the midst of all this criticism was a telling quote from Council Member Phillipe Cunningham in the Star Tribune: “What we see in this moment is all the responsibility with no accountability.”
Yes, Mayor Frey does have all the responsibility here. Given Frey’s dubious track record, this would ordinarily be a bad thing — until one considers that the feckless mayor of Minneapolis still beats out its actively destructive City Council in these matters.
Keep in mind this was the body that practically led the nationwide charge on defunding police — slashing the department’s budget by $8 million in the wake of the George Floyd riots — only to see the Minnesota city become the land of 10,000 felonies.
In the area where the City Council members had responsibility, they faced accountability — and they were forced to eat crow and backtrack. In the case of police use of non-lethal weapons, however, they have neither accountability nor responsibility. There’s no penalty for going full woke, after all, given the leftist leanings of many of their constituents. When there’s zero risk and a sizable reward, you needn’t ask what’ll happen next.
One doubts anyone on the City Council seriously considered that either the police or the mayor would put down non-lethal weapons in the run-up to the verdict in the Derek Chauvin case. Even if Chauvin is convicted on all counts, there’s no guarantee there won’t be unrest, particularly in the wake of the Wright shooting.
Mayor Frey, meanwhile, is the one with the responsibility for maintaining the peace, keeping his citizens safe and giving his police the widest range of options to accomplish this. His accountability lies with his constituents, not to the whims of a preening City Council. Thank heavens he seems to be aware of this fact.
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