(Reuters) – A majority of Minneapolis City Council members favor phasing out the city’s police department and creating a new way to ensure public safety, officials said, a sign that protests over the police killing of George Floyd are having an impact.
“We’re going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department,” Council member Jeremiah Ellis said on Twitter. “And when we’re done, we’re not just going to stick it together. We will significantly rethink how we approach public safety and emergency response.
The movement to “defund the police” predates the current protests, but has gained new support since a video of Floyd, an unarmed black man, pinned to the ground with a knee to the neck by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, horrified viewers around the world last month.
The Minneapolis council has not yet formally discussed defunding or reinventing its police force. But board chair Lisa Bender told CNN that a majority were in favor.
“We are committed to dismantling the police as we know it in the city of Minneapolis and rebuilding a new public safety model with our community that keeps our community safe,” Bender said.
The movement is motivated by anger at the militarized posture of many U.S. police departments and the recognition that they are called upon to confront social ills, including addiction, mental illness and homelessness that advocates say could be better addressed by spending on social services and rethinking what behaviors should be considered crimes.
Elected officials in New York and Los Angeles said they would cut their police budgets to refocus some spending on social services, another sign that the movement is gaining strength.
Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Lincoln Feast.
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