With another black suspect resisting arrest-- shot and killed by a police officer in Minnesota, there has been more rioting. There are also renewed calls to “defund” or “abolish” the police.
It’s been about nine months since nine members of the Minneapolis city council first vowed to dismantle the police department to install an undefined entity to handle emergencies.
But now the city faces a lawsuit at the hands of some community members, including African-Americans, who are trying to force officials to add more officers to the force.
Don Samuels is one of the residents suing the city on the basis of a per-capita mandate in the city’s founding charter. He’s a community organizer and civil rights activist who's live in North Minneapolis for more than twenty years.
“We're just preventing this irresponsible city council from being absolutely disastrous in its decision-making because it would be a disaster here,” says Samuels.
According to the charter, Minneapolis should have about 750 officers right now. But because so many have quit or are out on long term leave, the department is currently about 100 officers below that number, according to attorney James Dickey.
Samuels says since the City Council voted to divert $9 million from the $178 million police budget, crime has noticeably spiked.
“Since then, we've heard more gunshots,” Samuels says. “We used to hear one gunshot every now and then. It seems like now everybody has an automatic rifle or something because it's 20 shots at a time.”
The homicide rate in Minneapolis jumped 70% in 2020 over the year before. Violent crime was up 22%.
Still, the Minneapolis city council is moving forward with its effort to reimagine the police department. The issue is expected to be put to a vote in November with residents being asked if they want to replace the police department.