Minneapolis city council votes to defund police

A majority of the Minneapolis City Council vowed to dismantle the 800-member police force.

By World Israel News Staff and AP 

“Defund the police” has become the clearest rallying cry out of protests that have rocked the country since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Calls for deep police reforms gained momentum as leaders in Minneapolis pushed to dismantle the entire department.

On Sunday, nine of the Minneapolis City Council’s 12 members vowed to end policing as the city currently knows it. Mayor Jacob Frey said he doesn’t support the “full abolition” of the department.

“It is clear that our system of policing is not keeping our communities safe,” City Council President Lisa Bender said Sunday. “Our efforts at incremental reform have failed, period.”

The state of Minnesota has launched a civil rights investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department, and the first concrete changes came when the city agreed to ban chokeholds and neck restraints.

It’s not the first time an American city has wrestled with how to deal with a police department accused of being overly aggressive or having bias in its ranks. In Ferguson, Missouri — where a white officer in 2014 fatally shot Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old — then-Attorney General Eric Holder said federal authorities considered dismantling the police department.

The city eventually reached an agreement short of that but one that required massive reforms.

Floyd was an out-of-work black bouncer with a long rap sheet who had at least five stints in jail, including for home invasion where he pressed a handgun into a woman’s stomach. He moved to Minneapolis to start life anew but clearly struggled as he attempted to pass a counterfeit $20 bill, which led to his arrest and unwarranted death at the hands of police.

The Minneapolis police may have been insufficiently contrite for the city council.

In a letter posted on Twitter on June 1, Minneapolis Police Union President Lt. Bob Kroll, wrote “What is not being told is the violent criminal history of George Floyd. The media will not air this.”

“This terrorist movement that is currently occurring was a long time build up which dates back years,” he said, referring to the widespread looting.

“Our chief requested 400 more officers and was flatly denied any. This is what led to this record breaking riot,” he said.

Floyd’s death led to protests across the country last week that were marred by spasms of arson, assaults and smash-and-grab raids on businesses. More than 10,000 people have been arrested around the country since protests began, according to reports tracked by The Associated Press.

But as the riots have died down, several cities have lifted curfews, including Chicago and New York City.

For the first time since protests began in New York more than a week ago, most officers Sunday were not wearing riot helmets as they watched over rallies. Police moved the barricades at the Trump hotel at Columbus Circle for protesters so they could pass through.

In Compton, California, several thousand protesters, some on horseback, peacefully demonstrated through the city, just south of Los Angeles. The only law enforcement presence was about a dozen sheriff’s deputies, who watched without engaging.

In Washington, D.C., National Guard troops from South Carolina were seen checking out of their hotel Sunday shortly before President Donald Trump tweeted he was giving the order to withdraw them from the nation’s capital.

Things weren’t as peaceful in Seattle, where the mayor and police chief had said they were trying to deescalate tensions. Police used flash bang devices and pepper spray to disperse protesters after rocks, bottles and explosives were thrown at officers Saturday night.

On Sunday night, a man drove a car at protesters, hit a barricade then exited the vehicle brandishing a pistol, authorities said. A 27-year-old male was shot and taken to a hospital in stable condition, the Seattle Fire Department said.

On Sunday, Floyd’s body arrived in Texas for a third and final memorial service, said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. A viewing is planned for Monday in Houston, followed by a service and burial Tuesday in suburban Pearland.