Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Sunday reiterated that he doesn’t support abolishing the city’s police force, hours after a veto-proof majority of members of the Minneapolis City Council said they want to take that drastic step in the wake of the in-custody death of George Floyd.
Frey, who ordered a police station to evacuate as rioters burned it to the ground last month, was shouted down by a large gathering of demonstrators near his home on Saturday when he defied their demands to shutter the city’s police forces.
“I’ll work relentlessly with Chief [Medaria] Arradondo and alongside community toward deep, structural reform and addressing systemic racism in police culture,” Frey said in a statement to KARE. “We’re ready to dig in and enact more community-led, public safety strategies on behalf of our city. But, I do not support abolishing the Minneapolis Police Department.”
Before the crowd outside his home, Frey had prefaced his comments by saying he was “coming to grips” with his “own brokenness,” and by promising to put the police union “in its place.” But, many protesters clearly were unconvinced, yelling, “It’s not about you!” and “Go home Jacob, go home!”
On Sunday, nine city council members spoke at a protest at Powderhorn Park, a neighborhood in Minneapolis. The number of supporters in attendance represented a veto-proof majority to push the measure through, Fox 9 reported.
KARE listed Council President Lisa Bender, VP Andrea Jenkins and Councilmembers Alondra Cano, Jeremiah Ellison, Steve Fletcher, Phillipe Cunningham, Cam Gordon and Jeremy Schroeder as attending the event, most of whom took turns to address the gathered crowd.
Ellison, the son of state Attorney General Keith Ellison, has openly declared his support for Antifa, the left-wing group that President Trump has sought to designate as a terrorist organization. (The elder Ellison also has photographed himself with a book documenting Antifa’s methods.) Most members of the city council have belonged to the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party.
“Our commitment is to end our city’s toxic relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department,” Bender said. “It is clear that our system of policing is not keeping our communities safe. Our efforts at incremental reform have failed, period.”
Bender went on to say she and the eight other council members that joined the rally were committed to ending the city’s relationship with the police force and “to end policing as we know it and recreate systems that actually keep us safe.”
Ellison, for his part, promised that the council would “dismantle” the department.
Nationally, efforts to defund the police have been broadly unpopular, with only about 20 percent of Americans favoring reductions in police forces.
Disbanding an entire department has happened before. In 2012, with crime rampant in Camden, New Jersey, the city disbanded its police department and replaced it with a new force that covered Camden County. Compton, California, took the same step in 2000, shifting its policing to Los Angeles County.
It was a step that then-Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department was considering for Ferguson, Missouri, after the death of Michael Brown.
The city eventually reached an agreement short of that but one that required massive reforms overseen by a court-appointed mediator. Critics charged that the Obama administration had pressured Ferguson’s department to enter into a consent decree by asserting that disparate impacts of police enforcement were necessarily evidence of police racism.
The move to defund or abolish the Minneapolis department is far from assured, with the civil rights investigation likely to unfold over the next several months.
Fox News’ Peter Aitken and The Associated Press contributed to this report.