I wonder if the members of the Minneapolis City Council realize the irony of the fact that their private security details are costing taxpayers a reported $4,500 per day.
Minneapolis, the city where George Floyd died after a police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes and where the protests which have swept the nation started, took the first steps toward disbanding their police department late last week.
According to WCCO-TV, a resolution authored by five of the council members seeks to change the city charter to make disbanding the police department possible. Passage of the resolution, which was unanimously approved Friday, represents the start of a process that, if successful, will result in a measure being put on the ballot in November that allows citizens to decide if they want to amend the charter.
The charter currently says there needs to be a police department in the city. But the proposed amendment would replace the police department with “a department of community safety and violence prevention,” which is supposed to take “a holistic, public-health-oriented approach.”
“Of course we still have to have emergency response for those situations that are difficult to de-escalate, but I think that it’s important for us to keep in perspective that most of what police do is not respond to violent situations,” Councilman Jeremiah Ellison said.
The police, mind you, will still be around for a while. The city council has hedged its bets by placing in the ordinance a provision for “a division of law enforcement services, composed of licensed peace officers.”
Ellison says, for instance, that someone needed to deal with George Floyd allegedly passing counterfeit currency, but it wasn’t necessary for four armed police officers to respond.
“It’s undemocratic for nine people to go and decide what a new system of public safety is going to look like in a back room,” Ellison said. “I think it’s really going to require the voices of every single resident in our city.”
And you get the feeling Ellison really means hearing from each and every single citizen, preferably with each one giving a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation before the council about how they would like to see the police department disbanded and a new law enforcement entity brought forth. Then, perhaps, the issue can be turned over to a blue-ribbon commission to study the subject.
In short, the odds that this is done in any sort of substantive manner, particularly after the protesters go home and the media pack up their satellite trucks and leave, are almost nil. Maybe then everyone will forget that, as the fires of protest burned the hottest, the members of the city council made a promise they had no intention of keeping when they’re stoking the embers of apathy instead.
Unfortunately for the council members, there are some pretty angry people on the other side of the debate — and, according to KMSP-TV, some of the more degenerate members of this contingent are threatening three of them
Andrea Jenkins, Phillipe Cunningham and Alondra Cano — all prominent proponents of defunding the department — say they’ve received threats.
It’s unclear from the council members themselves, however, who these threats are coming from, how numerous they are or what they consist of.
There are also no police reports regarding threats against any of the council members, a Minneapolis police spokesperson told KMSP, although a report may have been filed confidentially.
“I don’t feel comfortable publicly discussing the death threats against me or the level of security I currently have protecting me from those threats,” Cunningham said in a text to the outlet.
Jenkins, the city council’s vice president who has been asking for security since her swearing-in, said her threats, as per KMSP, “have come in the form of emails, letters, and posts to social media.”
“My concern is the large number of white nationalist[s] in our city and other threatening communications I’ve been receiving,” she said.
Here, then, was the answer:
Minneapolis Council members get private security after threats https://t.co/ZfCLUcLjvF
— FOX 9 (@FOX9) June 27, 2020
If only there was a governmental arm that was trained to effectively provide protection to people who’ve been threatened. I hope their security is taking “a holistic, public-health-oriented approach.”
Anyhow, the private security — who took a holistic approach, doubtlessly — costs $4,500 a day, according to KMSP. The taxpayers of Minneapolis have already paid $63,000 for this, a city spokesperson confirmed to the outlet.
People, you may not be surprised, had some opinions on this:
Defund the police for our constituents but increase my personal security!
— Goose (@goose_mn) June 27, 2020
So to be clear. Defund the police, but still collect taxpayer dollars to fund private armed men to protect our city council who abolished our police dept to help keep us safe. I see, they get the guys with guns, we get the guys with clipboards. Perfect! What a great city council!
— James Madigan (@JamesMadigan) June 27, 2020
Rule of Law: all people are equal before the law.
If citizens don't get police protection, it is unlawful to provide security for city council members. It is a form of embezzlement, and they should go to jail.
— Stephen L. Hall (@StephenLHall) June 27, 2020
Are they planning on doing the same for the people that elected them?
— scott coleman (@bandphan) June 27, 2020
Minneapolis politicians who want to "defund the police" at a time when people are feeling unsafe in the city now have city-funded "private security." Sounds about right. Protection for people in power while average citizens are left vulnerable. When are people going to wake up?? https://t.co/4jNvyWGmpc
— Sister Toldjah 😁 (@sistertoldjah) June 27, 2020
Just so we’re clear: “Asked why Minneapolis Police are not providing security services to the three council members, a city spokesperson said MPD resources are needed in the community,” KMSP reported. “The hourly cost of private security is similar to the cost for a police officer, the spokesperson added.”
The security measures are just intended as a bridge measure until council members can find other security measures, the spokesperson said.
Whatever the case may be, I hope they find holistic security that figures out what kind of anomie the people allegedly making these threats are dealing with.
Disbanding the police is a terrible idea — one which will likely never see the light of day.
Most of us will never need the kind of security these city council members apparently require. If we did, however, the only way we’d be able to get it is through law enforcement — and probably police. Social workers likely wouldn’t make the grade.
I’d like to think the three council members now finally realize why police are so important. I doubt they do, though.
Author: C. Douglas Golden