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Minneapolis Blocks Community Control Of Police Ballot Measure

Above photo: Petitions demanding community control of police ballot initiative being delivered to Minneapolis city government. Clara Marsh.

Fight Not Over.

Minneapolis, MN – Minneapolis city government placed a roadblock in front of the ballot measure to establish community control of the police, May 9. Community members say the fight will continue.

Last week, the volunteer organizers delivered the signatures of over 12,000 Minneapolis residents who support putting community control of police on the ballot, through a city charter amendment to establish an all-elected Civilian Police Accountability Commission (CPAC).

Today, May 9, the city clerk’s office reported to the city council that only 5445 were verified as Minneapolis registered voters, 3498 less than the number required to move their proposal to the ballot.

“We are outraged to see so many of our neighbors’ voices be discarded by burdensome policies that make it impossible for a truly grassroots initiative to move forward,” said Jae Yates, Minneapolis for Community Control of Police (M4CCP) field organizer. “You shouldn’t need paid staff or politicians in your pockets to have a say in how your own communities are policed.”

Minneapolis for Community Control of Police organizers hold that the current statutes exclude many Minneapolis residents who signed the petition and should have their names counted. According to the clerk, 1341 signatures were from registered voters who have simply moved to a new address since signing. In a city with many renters and widespread housing instability, this excludes registered voters.

While they will continue to collect signatures to show the strength of the people’s support before the May 20 deadline, M4CCP will soon announce plans for other avenues in the short term to achieve community control of police.

Petitioning has been ongoing since the trial of Derek Chauvin, with an army of volunteers knocking doors, and speaking to neighbors, co-workers and students at grocery stores, houses of worship, and every kind of community gathering in Minneapolis. Every signature collected represents many more conversations with community members, since a lot of people who wanted to sign the petition were not registered to vote or ineligible to vote.

Despite this massive effort, organizers are not surprised the city clerk’s count threw out so many of the signatures submitted. According to organizer Noah Schumacher, “We understand that grassroots initiatives taken on by the people face anti-democratic barriers. We saw what happened in Atlanta when Cop City organizers collected over 100,000 signatures against the building of Cop City. Their initiative was thrown out on a technicality.”

“We already have a mandate from the people,” says Jae Yates. “Tens of thousands protested in outrage after the 2020 police murder of George Floyd. Back in 2015, thousands joined the occupation of Plymouth Avenue and marches after the murder of Jamar Clark. The people of Minneapolis were in the streets for months following each of these murders, leading and joining protests and heartbreaking vigils, getting arrested, getting brutalized, and fighting for change. The people have spoken.”

They continued, “After the lynching of George Floyd, the city promised change. Months later, Minneapolis police murdered Dolal Idd. Then Leneal Frazier. Then Amir Locke. Then Tekle Sundberg. We know the list will go on and on, unless there is radical change. We need true accountability. No more do-nothing commissions that are set up to fail, leaving the mayor of Minneapolis still in charge of his murderous squad. No more million-dollar payouts for police brutality. No more lies, no more cover-ups. We need accountability, both for the past and going forward.”

The charter amendment put forward by this petition calls for an all-elected commission of 13 civilians to oversee the police department. The CPAC would be empowered to investigate every resident complaint and abuse of police power. They would set police department policy, hire the chief, and be able to discipline officers. They would be required to do full reporting on all their activities and results.

Humberto Martin of M4CCP said, “CPAC gets the mayor, and the mayor’s political and financial ambitions, out of the picture. We need an entity whose sole responsibility is to hold the police accountable that we the people control directly. We need CPAC.”

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