Defunding the police has become all but defunct in Minneapolis.
City leaders last week agreed to a city budget that will bring police spending to almost the level it was prior to the death of George Floyd in May 2020, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
At one point, in response to activists who demanded massive cuts in police spending, the City Council slashed the police budget.
That was followed by an ugly rise in crime that got so bad that it was soon followed by efforts to pay neighboring jurisdictions for police protection as a rise in crime followed the departure of police officers.
“This vote is a first step on a long road back from the division over public safety that has characterized the past 18 tumultuous months in Minneapolis,” said Steve Cramer, president of the Downtown Council, according to the Star Tribune.
But progressives remain opposed to the police.
“It seems this budget is intended to send a heartbreaking political message that nothing has changed in Minneapolis since the murder of George Floyd,” said outgoing Council President Lisa Bender, who did not seek re-election, according to KMSP-TV.
“I think many people in Minneapolis feel dismayed,” said Kenza Hadj-Moussa, a spokeswoman for the progressive organization TakeAction Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune. “What we’ve seen [is], year after year, no matter what’s happening with crime, the MPD always demands more resources.”
The budget increases violence prevention efforts, but not at the expense of police funding, the Star Tribune reported.
Are progressive cities learning they need police protection after all?
That’s a far cry from last year when the council cut $8 million from the police budget.
“There wasn’t more of that type of action because there wasn’t the political will, really, to do so,” said Council Member Phillipe Cunningham, according to the Star Tribune.
Cunningham lost his re-election bid in November.
In that same election, Minneapolis voters rejected a proposal to replace police with a so-called public safety agency.
Mayor Jacob Frey, who was reelected in November despite a tumultuous first term, said the budget will fund five classes of police recruits to help rebuild a police department that lost 300 officers over the past two years, according to KMSP.
The budget reflects a “sustained commitment to public safety,” a Frey spokeswoman said, according to KMSP.
Despite the budget, efforts to curb police spending will not vanish.
Dave Bicking of Communities United Against Police Brutality said the group wants changes in how the police operate.
“I think the mayor and the City Council have circled the wagons, and nothing is going to change unless they are forced to,” Bicking said, according to the Star Tribune.
Council Member Linea Palmisano said the city needs to meet changing times with a flexible approach.
“Nothing is more in flux right now in our city than our public safety needs, and our ways to address them have to be this both-and approach,” she said, according to the Star Tribune.
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