Former Minneapolis City Councilmember Calls for Radical Police Reform, Launches Lawsuit Against The City of Minneapolis Police Department
After the death of George Floyd, many in Minneapolis called for the defunding of its police department. The City council at one point had a “supermajority” to push past a Mayoral veto to do so but took no action to dismantle or reduce funding to the department. Despite this people have complained that there has been a lack of police enforcement since the events of late May and early July, so much so that several lawsuits have been launched. One lawsuit, in particular, is led by a former City Councilmember, Don Samuels.
- “We want radical police reform, where all citizens are treated as fully human by all cops, and not just by the ‘good ones’ we all know well,” Samuels and wife Sondra said in an open letter opinion piece from the Star Tribune, “Police union president Bob Kroll has to go. He is a throwback — a barrier to the concessions necessary for healed relationships with the community, and he is known for protecting abusive racist cops.”
Since the unrest early in the summer, the crime rate has risen significantly. According to the MPD Crime Database year over year violent crime has increased by 22%, motor vehicle thefts by 29%, robbery by 37% and homicides by 89% surpassing last year’s total of 48 by 20 thus far. This has been caused by many factors, however, Samuels blames the city council.
- “The council’s ‘abolish and defund plans lead to too few cops which leads to too few taxpayers,” said Samuels.
Shortly after the unrest following George Floyd’s death, the idea of defunding the police gained traction among protestors. At a rally on June 7th, an organizer at the rally asked Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey if he would “commit to defunding the Minneapolis police department?” While inaudible it is assumed he answered no as he was met with verbal frustrations from the crowd telling him to “Go home!” Later that same day Lisa Bender, the President of the City Council, and 8 of the 13 other council members came out in support of defunding the police with their supermajority.
- “It is clear that our system of policing is not keeping our communities safe,” said City Council President Lisa Bender, “our efforts at incremental reform have failed, period.”
Don Samuels claims that this movement is what is causing the problem.
- “The council’s abolish and defund plans lead to too few cops which leads to too few taxpayers,” said Samuels.
Since then there has been little movement on the promise they made to defund the police. However the department has been far from stable and it has appeared to many that they have been lacking in their duties because ever since. WCCO reported that as of August 65 officers have left the department with a further 35 to do so by the end of the year due to budget restraints. A further 150 officers have submitted disability claims for PTSD from the unrest following the death of Floyd. This has left a department of approximately 800 officers, that is already struggling with policing efforts in the city, down over a quarter of their total personnel. The city charter requires Minneapolis to maintain a police force that has an active-duty officer for every 588 residents which would put this number around 724 officers. At the moment the city is failing to do so.
“The bottom line is, by charter the council must maintain a per capita force in the mid-700s of active-duty officers.” Said Samuels. “While this is not enough for our needs, we worry that the council’s naive intent is to take us well below this number. And we are not having it. If the leadership of the city cannot muster the wisdom to keep us safe, it must muster the compliance to obey the law that is designed to do so.”