Six months after Minneapolis vowed to dismantle the police, residents grapple with staggering increase in carjackings
Andrew Kerr, DCNF
Carjackings in Minneapolis during November were up 537% from the same month last year amid an ongoing spike in violent crime in the city since George Floyd’s death in late May.
“The numbers are staggering,” Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder told the Star Tribune. “It defies all civility and any shred of common human decency.”
Minneapolis has seen at least 375 carjackings so far in 2020, a three-fold increase from what the city experienced in 2019. Murders are up more than 50% in Minneapolis in 2020, and more than 500 people have been shot in the city this year, double the number of people shot in 2019.
A veto-proof supermajority of the Minneapolis City Council pledged less than two weeks after Floyd’s police-custody death to defund and dismantle the city’s police department. City Council President Lisa Bender said they intended to replace the police “with a transformative new model of public safety.”
Yes. We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a transformative new model of public safety. https://t.co/FCfjoPy64k
— Lisa Bender (@lisabendermpls) June 4, 2020
However, the Minneapolis Charter Commission formally rejected the council’s plan to dismantle the city’s police department in early November. One charter commissioner said there was “no evidence” showing that the plan would facilitate police reform.
While still intact, the Minneapolis Police Department has shrunk significantly since the wave of violence and rioting that followed Floyd’s death. There were 874 officers on the force at the beginning of 2020, seven of which were on leave. By mid-November, the force had 834 officers with an unprecedented 121, or 14.5% of the force, on leave, according to the Star Tribune.
The owner of a local gas station told the Star Tribune in September that perpetrators of violent crime in Minneapolis seem to be emboldened by the lack of police presence on the streets.
“‘I can sell drugs here, I can shoot here,’ they carry guns, they don’t care about anything,” said Belal Hijazi.
The Minneapolis City Council has taken additional steps to cut away at the department’s budget since Floyd’s death.
The council voted in July to move $1.1 million from the police department’s budget to the city’s health department to fund unarmed “violence interrupters” that, according to Bender, will “help stop violence before it happens.”
Minneapolis began piloting the violence interrupters initiative in October.
Three city council members proposed in late November to cut an additional $8 million from the Minneapolis Police Department’s budget. The budget cuts, if passed, would limit the force to 770 officers, a figure significantly lower than the 888 officer-sized force proposed in Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s budget proposal.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo railed against the proposal on Monday, calling it “reckless and dangerous.”
“We need to dream about a better future, but we cannot sleepwalk on public safety of our residences and our businesses,” he said. “Crime is occurring, the shootings, the carjackings, the robberies. They are citywide, they are impacting everyone, and not just one constituency base and not just one neighborhood.”
Frey also spoke out against the proposal.
“This notion that in order to have a more comprehensive public safety strategy you have to do away with one critical element, which is police, is wrong,” the mayor said on Monday.
“This is literally a life and death matter right now and we need to get it right,” Frey said.