A judge ordered that an explanation about replacing the Minneapolis police be removed from the ballot. The explanation was supported by Major Jacob Frey and city officials, who said that the people deserved to understand what they were voting for. The ballot question, put up by Yes 4 Minneapolis, seeks to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety.
The judge who made the decision, Hennepin County Judge Jamie Anderson, said that, “The proper function of the ballot is to assist the voter in easily and accurately identifying what they are voting on. Even in service of this principle, attempts to enlighten voters on good faith issues may create an unfair advantage one way or the other if extraneous information is allowed.”
GeorCity officials had approved the language of the explanatory vote, but the group putting the proposal on the ballot disliked the phrasing and sued the city to strike it from the ballot. The group, Yes 4 Minneapolis, is a local activist group funded in part by George Soros. As reported by The Minnesota Sun, “Yes 4 Minneapolis is seeking to replace the police force with a community-led effort.” Money from one of George Soros’ foundations was donated to Yes 4 Minneapolis to help their efforts to replace the police force.
According to the Yes 4 Minneapolis website, they are “a black-led, multiracial campaign composed of a growing coalition of grassroots, community organizations and individuals who believe a people’s petition is the best path forward for implementing a new Department of Public Safety in Minneapolis.”
The ballot question put forth by Yes 4 Minneapolis reads, “Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to strike and replace the Police Department with a Department of Public Safety that employs a comprehensive public health approach, and which would include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary, to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety, with the general nature of the amendments being briefly indicated in the explanatory note below, which is made a part of this ballot?”
The city was seeking to add an explanatory note so that voters would fully understand what they were voting for or against. As was reported by The Sun, the explanatory note would have read:
This amendment would create a new Department of Public Safety, which would:
1. Combine public safety functions of the City of Minneapolis into a comprehensive public health approach to safety, with the specific public safety functions to be determined.
2. Include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the Department of Public Safety.
3. Be led by a Commissioner of Public Safety. The appointment process for the Commissioner would include a Mayor nomination and a City Council appointment. The Mayor would not have complete power over the establishment, maintenance, and command of the Department of Public Safety.
This amendment would also do the following:
1. Remove from the Charter a Police Department, which includes the removal of its Police Chief, and the removal of the Mayor’s complete power over the establishment, maintenance, and command of the Police Department.
2. Remove the City Council requirement to fund a police force of at least 1.7 employees per 1,000 residents.
3. Remove City Council authorization to impose additional taxation on taxable property in the City of Minneapolis of up to 0.3 percent of its value annually to fund the compensation of employees of the police force.
However, according to WCCO, Yes 4 Minneapolis called the language “misleading” and said that the city did not have the authority to add the note to the ballot. The judge sided with Yes 4 Minneapolis, calling the wording “problematic.”
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Hayley Tschetter is a reporter with The Minnesota Sun | Star News Network. Follow Hayley on Twitter or like her Facebook page. Send news tips to [email protected].
Photo “MPD Squad Car” by Tony Webster (CC BY 2.0).