The measure asked voters if they favored amending the city’s charter to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety.
Voters in Minnesota’s largest city have rejected what would have been an unprecedented move to dismantle the police department on Tuesday after calls for reform following the death of George Floyd.
The measure asked voters if they favored amending the city’s charter to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety. The initiative would have removed language from the charter related to the agency, including minimum funding requirements, and would have divided control of public safety between the mayor and City Council.
The question failed 57% to 44%, according to the results released by the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office with 133 of 136 precincts reporting. It needed 51% of voter approval to pass.
“I kind of trembled a little bit in the voting booth today because I live in one of the neighborhoods most impacted by crime and violence… and knew the correlation between the lack of policing and good policing,” Sondra Samuels, a Minneapolis resident who sued over the measure, told Fox News. “We can have reform and we can have enough police to keep our children, our elderly safe. So this was a win tonight.”
Samuels said she’s lost four neighbors to gun violence and several others are putting homes up for sale.
The ballot question would have essentially removed power from the mayor and police chief in an effort to re-imagine policing amid fraught relationships between law enforcement and minority communities nationwide. Tuesday’s vote came as Minneapolis is experiencing an uptick in violent crime similar to other cities.
According to the ballot language, the public safety department would have employed a “comprehensive public health approach” to policing, specifically putting a greater emphasis on mental health.
The measure was spearheaded by Yes 4 Minneapolis, a coalition of businesses and other groups, which gathered 22,000 signatures to put it on the ballot, which was a battle in itself after it became the subject of legal challenges. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in September that voters could decide on the matter.
The goal, the group said, was to have options other than officers for responses to non-police-related calls.
“This campaign began with working-class Black and brown residents marching together to demand a higher standard of public safety in the city. It grew into a city-wide movement that spanned race, income, and neighborhoods, to give residents a say in their future and to advocate for the resources that they need,” a Yes 4 Minneapolis statement said. “While this is not the result that we hoped for, the story of our movement must be told.”
Tuesday gave Minneapolis voters their first chance to give their input on police reform since the May 2020 death of George Floyd by former White Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and the subsequent nationwide protests, riots, court battles and promises by elected officials to overhaul how communities, particularly ones of color, are policed.
The ballot question split Democrats with some like Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who is running for a second term, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz opposed. Others like State Attorney General Keith Ellison and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar supported the measure.