Voters have rejected a ballot question that would have reimagined public safety in Minneapolis replacing the city’s police department, which has been at the center of racial justice protests following the murder of George Floyd last year.
Fewer than 50 percent of voters cast their ballots in favor of replacing the Minneapolis Police Department, a figure that was not enough to counter those who opposed the charter amendment that would have given the city a Department of Public Safety instead.
According to CBS Minnesota, 56 percent of voters — more than 80,000 people — were against replacing the city’s police department, compared to 44 percent — nearly 63,000 people — who wanted the opposite.
One of the groups working to get support for Question 2 signaled that even in defeat there was a moral victory.
“We changed the conversation about what public safety should look like. We showed the country and the world the power of democracy and of the people,” Yes 4 Minneapolis tweeted late Tuesday night after it became apparent that the charter amendment would not pass. “Now, we will work to hold the system accountable. We will work to heal our city and create safer streets for all our communities.”
The Minneapolis Police Department is set up so that it is shielded from meaningful accountability. The charter amendment was meant to change that, organizers said.
“It is literally the only police department that is set up this way in the entire state,” Miski Noor, an organizer with Black Visions, told NewsOne days before Tuesday’s election.
Noor said the campaign to change the city charter was ultimately a heavy lift for the community.
“We had to actually collect petition signatures to get it on the ballot this year,” Noor explained. “We had to collect at least 12,000 signatures; we collected over 22,000 signatures to get it on the ballot this year. This was through the rain and the Minnesota winter. During a pandemic, we still got 22,000 signatures and got people to show up and show out to make that happen.”
Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin literally sparked nearly 18 months of ongoing protests against the city’s police department, including demonstrators famously setting a precinct on fire and burning it down in the aftermath of the grisly killing of the unarmed, handcuffed Black man accused of the nonviolent crime of using a counterfeit bill at a local store.
Momentum had seemingly built to successfully reimagine public safety in the city, including calls last year from city council members who pledged to disband the Minneapolis Police Department.
The Yes on Question 2 campaign also had support from other local elected officials, including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office secured a guilty verdict for Chauvin.
“We often look back in history admiringly at courageous leaders who stood for progress & justice – despite opposition,” Ellison tweeted on Monday. “In midst of the battle, their courage and vision are not always obvious to all. How can we muster vision, faith courage to act when it matters most?”
It appears that Minneapolis voters have answered his question.