Saying that the city’s current policing system could not be reformed, the council members stood before hundreds of people who gathered late in the day on a grassy hill, and signed a pledge to begin the process of taking apart the Police Department as it now exists.
For activists who have been pushing for years for drastic changes to policing, the move represented a turning point that they hoped would lead to a complete transformation of public safety in the city.
“It shouldn’t have taken so much death to get us here,” Kandace Montgomery, the director of Black Vision, said from the stage at the rally. “We’re safer without armed, unaccountable patrols supported by the state hunting black people.”
The pledge in Minneapolis, where George Floyd died 13 days ago after being pinned to the ground by a white police officer’s knee, reflected calls across America to completely rethink what policing looks like. Protesters have taken to the streets with demands to shrink or abolish police departments, and “defund the police” has become a frequent rallying cry.
Officials in other cities, including New York, have begun to talk of diverting some money and responsibilities from police forces to social services agencies, but no other major city has yet gone as far as the Minneapolis officials promised to do.
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