Just two months after voting to defund the police, Minneapolis City Council members sounded the alarm over a surge in crime in the city.
During a business meeting on Tuesday, members of the Council questioned police Chief Medaria Arradondo about the increase in crime, including daylight car jackings, robberies, assaults, shootings and street racing.
‘Residents are asking, “Where are the police?”‘ Council Member Jamal Osman said, adding that calls to the Minneapolis Police Department from constituents have gone unanswered.
‘That is the only public safety option they have at the moment. MPD. They rely on MPD. And they are saying they are nowhere to be seen.’
President of the Council Lisa Bender accused the police of knowingly not enforcing the law or making arrests.
‘This is not new,’ Bender said. ‘But it is very concerning in the current context.’
Arradondo said it was ‘troubling to hear’ Bender’s comments, and promised to raise the issue with departmental supervisors.
Pictured: Minneapolis City Council’s president Lisa Bender, pictured left centre along with vice president Andrea Jenkins (far left) and Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey (far right). The council was alarmed on Tuesday at the spike in crime cases after it moved to reallocate $1.1 million of the Minneapolis Police Department’s budget two months ago
‘We need to make sure that our communities know that we are going to be there, that we’re going to be responsive,’ he said. ‘We’ve taken an oath to do that.’
Crime data from the Minneapolis Police Department shows homicide, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, auto theft, theft from motor vehicles and arson were all up in the city so far in 2020, when compared with 2019 up until September 15.
Violent crime, including domestic aggravated assault, was up almost 15 per cent in the first nine months of the year, while property crime was up almost eight per cent in the same time period.
Of all the crimes that have increased, homicide saw the largest spike of 87 per cent, rising from 30 in 2019 to 56 in 2020, while incidents of arson have increased by 82 per cent over the total at this point in 2019.
Robbery rose from 931 to 1,275 (37 percent) while incidents of aggravated assault increased from 1,750 in 2019 to 2,100 this year (20 percent). Meanwhile, rape fell by 22 percent, and domestic aggravated assault fell by 8.4 percent.
In terms of property crimes, burglary rose from 2,223 to 2,785 (25 percent), thefts from motor vehicles rose from 3,127 to 3,937 (26 percent), and auto theft rose from 1,982 to 2,766 (40 percent), while larceny fell by almost 10 percent.
Pictured: Violent crime rates in Minneapolis compared in 2019 and 2020, from start of year until September 15
Arradondo said that about 100 officers have left the MPD or have taken leave of absence since the start of 2020 – more than double the number of officers who typically step down from the department or are inactive, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
As part of its several steps towards dismantling the MPD, Minneapolis City Council approved an amendment to remove $1.1 million from the department’s budget and reallocate it toward the health department in order to hire ‘violence interrupters’.
This came as part of the council’s pledge earlier in the summer to dismantle the department and replace it with a community-based system of public safety.
During a council business meeting, council members questioned Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, pictured last month after Crime data from the MPD showed homicide, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, auto theft, theft from motor vehicles and arson were all up in the city so far in 2020, when compared with 2019 up until September 15
Council member Phillipe Cunningham was critical of his fellow members during the meeting, and accused them of contradicting their previous statements when they called for the department to be dismantled.
‘What I am sort of flabbergasted by right now is colleagues, who a very short time ago were calling for abolition, are now suggesting we should be putting more resources and funding into MPD,’ Cunningham said.
Cunningham spoke in favour in July of treating violence as a public health problem, focusing resources at non-law-enforcement-based methods.
Calls to defund police departments grew following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, who died after Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes
Officer Derek Chauvin, pictured, has been charged with second-degree murder, while the three other officers who were present at Floyd’s arrest and death have been charged with aiding and abetting
Speaking to Fox & Friends on Thursday, Lacy Johnson – A Republican congressional candidate in Minnesota – blamed the uptick in crime on the council’s efforts to dismantle the police department.
‘The hypocrisy and failure that we’re seeing from this City Council is astounding and deeply troubling,’ he said, after the council was calling for the ‘dismantling or demilitarizing or the disarming of police’ all summer.
‘Now they’re turning around and blaming these brave officers for a situation that they have created,’ said the candidate looking to replace Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
The council moved to defund the police department following the death of George Floyd on May 25, a 46-year-old black man, who died in Minneapolis after a white police officer – Derek Chauvin – knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
Floyd’s death was captured in a video shared widely online sparking outrage across the U.S. and galvanizing the Black Lives Matter movement which saw protests in a number of cities – including Minneapolis – some of which turned violent.
The now-infamous incident also led to calls to defund police departments, and redirect funds to more community-focused programs.
Officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, while the three other officers who were present at Floyd’s arrest and death have been charged with aiding and abetting.