Minneapolis City Council President Defends Plan to Dismantle Police: Expecting Help Is ‘Privilege’

Monday on CNN’s “New Day,” Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender defended her council’s attempt to disband the Minneapolis police department following the death of George Floyd.

Bender said, “I think in Minneapolis, watching George Floyd’s death, and the actions of the four police officers that were involved has been a huge wake-up call for so many in Minneapolis to see what many already knew, which is that our police department is not keeping every member of our community safe. And so I think step one for us is to tell the truth. Nine council members from communities all across the city of all different backgrounds, standing together, to tell the truth, and say, this system isn’t working for too many of our neighbors for too long. Our reform efforts have failed, and we have done many, many attempts at reform and new leadership in the department and many things, and we still see this tragic death. And so I think the wake-up of our community is what’s driving the city council’s announcement yesterday. And now the hard work begins for us to rebuild systems that really work to keep all of our communities safe.”

Host Alisyn Camerota asked, “But to be clear, you’re not talking about reform. The word dismantle is intentionally different than reform. This is more than reform. This is dismantling. I mean, activists who support this are calling this a police-free future.”

Bender said, “Yeah, and you know, a lot of us were asked if we could manage a future without police back in 2017 when we were running for office, and I answered yes to that question. To me, that future is a long way away, and it would take an enormous amount of investment in things that we know work to keep people safe. For a lot of folks in our community, stable housing is a safety issue. Having access to health care is a safety issue. So, having, you know, I think one thing folks are asking is to stop investing so much money in this militarized police force and instead invest in the things that our community really needs. So, you know, I know the statement was bold, and I stand by that bold statement, but the work ahead of us will be long, it will include every member of our community. It has to.”

Camerota asked, “What if, in the middle of the night, my home is broken into? Who do I call?”

Bender said, “Yes, I mean, I hear that loud and clear from a lot of my neighbors, and myself, too, and I know that that comes from a place of privilege. Because for those of us for whom the system is working, I think we need to step back and imagine what it would feel like to already live in that reality where calling the police may mean more harm is done.”

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