Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender made several appearances on cable news programs Monday and was unable to articulate who would respond to violent crimes if her city’s police department is actually abolished.
During a Sunday event, nine members of Minneapolis’s 12-member council committed to defunding and abolishing the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). With nine votes, the idea has a veto-proof majority and can move forward with or without the support of Mayor Jacob Frey, who favors reforms over full abolition.
According to a press release, the nine council members have committed themselves to “ending” the MPD and “creating a new transformative model.”
“We’ll be taking intermediate steps towards ending the MPD through the budget process and other policy and budget decisions over the coming weeks and months,” said the release, which called for a “police-free future.”
Bender was repeatedly asked Monday about who would respond to violent crimes if there were no police officers.
“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,” she said on CNN’s “New Day.”
Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender on the intent to defund and dismantle the city’s police department: “[We] have looked up ways we can shift the response away from our armed police officers… the groundwork is laid already.” https://t.co/h0eSepelHE pic.twitter.com/wBASgjsIbq
— CNN (@CNN) June 8, 2020
She then joined Wolf Blitzer for an interview later in the day and was asked the same question, this time admitting that “we don’t have all the answers.”
“Look, it is our top priority to keep every single member of our community safe. If you look back at the last 150 years of our police department, it is becoming increasingly clear that that model of policing isn’t working. So we need to invite in our whole community. The nine members of our city council that came from every corner of our city to stand together to make this commitment – we don’t have all the answers. What we committed to was a community process to help reimagine public safety,” said Bender.
“Reforms haven’t worked. And so, we have to reimagine what public safety looks like,” Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins says about the council’s plan to dismantle the police department. https://t.co/wvrKCVBk8C pic.twitter.com/WH552QQVsP
— CNN (@CNN) June 8, 2020
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo noted that the council’s actions have given President Donald Trump a great talking point in the middle of an election year.
“Politically, it’s playing like dynamite. You’ve got the president hitting every Democrat over the head with this suggestion and he can,” said Cuomo.
Bender told Cuomo that the council’s “idea of having a police-free future is very aspirational.”
“I agree that our number one priority is the safety of every single person in our community, and yes, we still have a police department today, we have had a police department for 150 years,” she said. “So as we look forward into the future, the answer is yes, absolutely, if something is happening, there needs to be someone to call.”
Minneapolis Council President Lisa Bender says that when she talks about a "police-free" future, it is a goal that is "aspirational."
"I'm willing to stand with community members who are asking us to think of that as the goal." pic.twitter.com/rTCfHcksus
— CNN (@CNN) June 9, 2020
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