Things That Matter

Minneapolis City Council Is Going To Be Disbanding The Police Department, Mayor Doesn’t Agree

The Minneapolis City Council announced that they have a veto-proof majority in favor of disbanding the Minneapolis Police Department. The MPD caused worldwide protests after four of their officers killed George Floyd during an arrest. The city council is signaling that they will be disbanding the police force and the mayor is pushing back.

Minneapolis City Council is going to be dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department.

Minneapolis has been the center of the conversation of police brutality. Four Minneapolis Police Department officers killed George Floyd while arresting him leading to worldwide protests. The unrest has led to changes within some police departments and Minneapolis is about to witness the harshest response to police brutality.

Organizers are pointing to the announcement as proof that the protests are working.

Minneapolis has experienced 10 days of sustained demonstrations. All the while, the protesters were demanding the same thing from the Minneapolis government: actions against the police. This announcement is just the latest in the success touted by the movement.

“We’re here because we hear you. We are here today because George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis Police. We are here because here in Minneapolis and in cities across the United States it is clear that our existing system of policing and public safety is not keeping our communities safe,” Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender said in a statement Sunday. “Our efforts at incremental reform have failed. Period.”

The Minneapolis Police Department has already started to see the effects of the protest.

The University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Public Schools, and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation have all cut ties with the MPD. The cancellation of these contracts have cost the police department millions of dollars as more organizations in Minneapolis find ways to limit police activity.

There is a nuanced conversation about what defunding the police means that many are not listening to.

Activists are not calling for police to be completely eliminated. One of the best ways to curb deadly over-policing is to redirect resources and money to organizations and other departments equipped to handle them. For example, drug overdoses are one call for which the police should not be the go-to. Those calls are better handled as a healthcare issue rather than a criminal matter.

There is also a larger discussion needed to be done that is about reinvesting into communities of color. The communities that are dealing with the deadly practice of over-policing could benefit from more funds flowing into their communities for education and outreach.

“It’s not just about taking away money from the police, it’s about reinvesting those dollars into black communities. Communities that have been deeply divested from, communities that, some have never felt the impact of having true resources. And so we have to reconsider what we’re resourcing. I’ve been saying we have an economy of punishment over an economy of care,” Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, told WBUR.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey was asked if he would support disbanding the police in front of a crowd of protesters and they were not happy with his answer.

Mayor Frey’s answer to the question drew anger from protesters who want him to commit to defunding the Minneapolis Police Department After saying he was not in favor of the decision to defund the police, he was booed out of the crowd.

What do you think about the movement to defund police in the U.S.?

READ: Venezuelan Singer Chyno Posted A Video Mocking Protesters And Calling Them Imbeciles And Delinquents

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New York City Will Try to Answer Mental Health Calls With Crisis Workers Instead of Police Officers

Things That Matter

New York City Will Try to Answer Mental Health Calls With Crisis Workers Instead of Police Officers

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It looks like New York City is taking a much-needed step forward in the area of police reform. Last Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, announced a brand new pilot program in which mental health crisis workers, instead of police, will be dispatched in response to non-violent mental health calls.

“For the first time in our city’s history, health responders will be the default responders for a person in crisis, making sure those struggling with mental illness receive the help they need,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement.

According to CNN, New York City received over 170,000 mental health-related calls in 2019.

That is roughly one call every three minutes. Police officers respond to every one of those calls–regardless if there is a threat of violence.

DeBlasio’s statement explained that police officers would accompany mental health workers if there was any threat of violence. The program, which is set to begin in February, will be tested out in two unidentified “high-need” neighborhoods.

The pilot program is in response to near-universal calls for police reform that raised to a fever pitch in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police.

Advocates of police reform argue that American police are over-militarized and tend to escalate conflict instead of de-escalating. This can be particularly frustrating in the cases of people with mental health problems, who often need a doctor more than they need a police officer.

“Treating mental-health crises as mental-health challenges and not public safety ones is the modern and more appropriate approach,” wrote McCray in a press release. “That is because most individuals with psychiatric concerns are much more likely to be victims or harm themselves than others.’’

Ideally, a program like this will encourage families to no longer be afraid of calling emergency services if a loved one is having a mental health crisis. No one should be afraid of losing their life when they call 911 for help.

The general response to this new experiment was that of both optimism and skepticism.

One former police officer told CNN that the program had promise, but he was worried for situations when a mentally ill person “turns on a dime” and becomes violent with little provocation.

This person pointed out that mental health pros have better training at de-escalating situations.

Unfortunately, police officers don’t have the robust training in handling mentally ill people as social workers and crisis workers do.

This person is glad that the police will still be an option if back-up is needed:

We’ve heard one too many stories about disabled or mentally ill children and/or adults being violently dealt with by police officers. This program sounds like it could be a stepping stone.

This person made an interesting point about “defunding the police” vs “funding social services”

Sometimes, something as simple as changing semantics can make all the difference. We should be re-routing funds to make people safer, not to further militarize the police.

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They Were Marching Peacefully To The Polls In Honor Of George Floyd When Police Stopped Them With Pepper Spray

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They Were Marching Peacefully To The Polls In Honor Of George Floyd When Police Stopped Them With Pepper Spray

Logan Cyrus / Getty Images

We’re less than 24 hours away from one of the most consequential elections ever. It’s so important that we all get out and vote and that’s exactly what one community in North Carolina was trying to do over the weekend when police intervened with pepper spray, preventing many from exercising their right to vote.

The march was a ‘get out the vote’ march in honor of George Floyd and other Black Americans killed by police. When they were stopped to observe a moment of silence in honor of George Floyd, police moved in and dispersed the crowd with pepper spray – including the elderly, children, and journalists.

Many are calling the police interference an obvious form of voter suppression or intimidation. Unfortunately, it isn’t the only similar story from the past few weeks.

Protesters were marching to the polls in honor of Black Americans killed by police when they were attacked.

On the final day of early voting in North Carolina, police in Alamance County pepper-sprayed a group of voters who were marching to the polls, leaving demonstrators injured and vomiting in the streets.

About 250 people—most of them Black—were taking part in an event called I Am Change Legacy March to the Polls and on their final stop before visiting a polling place in downtown Graham when cops intervened. Law enforcement officers used pepper spray to break up the crowd, a decision that has drawn criticism from the state’s governor and civil rights groups.

According to the Graham Police Department, law enforcement pepper sprayed the ground to disperse the crowd in at least two instances — first, after marchers did not move out of the road following a moment of silence, and again after an officer was “assaulted” and the event deemed “unsafe and unlawful.”

But the event’s organizers and other attendees have said they did nothing to warrant the response, and that they wanted to exercise their First Amendment rights and march to the polls.

“I and our organization, marchers, demonstrators and potential voters left here sunken, sad, traumatized, obstructed and distracted from our intention to lead people all the way to the polls,” said the march organizer, the Rev. Gregory Drumwright, in a news conference Sunday. “Let me tell you something: We were beaten, but we will not be broken,” he added.

The march to the polls was organized in response to the police killings of unarmed Black Americans.

The “I Am Change” march was branded as a “march to the polls” in honor of Black people whose deaths have fueled protests over racial injustice, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin, among others, according to a flyer for the event.

The rally started at the Wayman’s Chapel AME Church and included a stop at the Confederate Monument in Court Square before they were set to continue to a nearby polling place. While stopped for a moment of silence at Court Square in honor of George Floyd, police ordered them to clear the streets.

“Once it was clear that they had no intention to clear the road,” police deployed the pepper spray at the ground, and the crowd then moved to the proper designated area, according to officers.

Many are calling the brazen tactics an explicit form of voter suppression.

Scott Huffman, a North Carolina Democratic congressional candidate who attended the march, said in a video shared on Twitter that demonstrators were exercising their First Amendment rights and that the organizers had obtained proper permits. 

According to marchers, some officers were allowing the protesters to march, but others weren’t, an obvious sign of the breakdown in communication between departments. 

The incident was criticized by a number of officials and civil rights groups, including the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, whose executive director likened it to “voter intimidation.”

“We need to find a way to close the book on voter suppression and police violence if we are to start a new chapter in our story that recognizes the importance of protecting everyone’s right to vote,” said ACLU of North Carolina executive director Chantal Stevens.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper shared the Raleigh News & Observer’s article about the march on Twitter and called the incident “unacceptable.”

“Peaceful demonstrators should be able to have their voices heard and voter intimidation in any form cannot be tolerated,” the governor said

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