Minneapolis police abolition referendum goes down in defeat

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 11: Members of the Minneapolis Police Department monitor a protest on June 11, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The MPD has been under scrutiny from residents and local city officials after the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JUNE 11: Members of the Minneapolis Police Department monitor a protest on June 11, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 3:12 PM PT – Wednesday, November 3, 2021

On Tuesday night, the defund the police movement was put to its first explicit electoral test at ground zero for far left led rioting and looting. Voters in Minneapolis were asked if they wanted to abolish the city’s police department while replacing it with a much more encompassing Department of Public Safety.

By a margin of about 56 to 44 percent, voters said they wanted to keep the department as is. According to the former president of the local NAACP Jason Sole, who supported abolishing the department, people are ready for change and are waiting to know what that change will entail before fully deciding.

Sole said he remains optimistic despite losing, because of how relatively close he feels the margin was.

“People want something different. They just want to know more about it. You know, for a lot of the voters who chose to go with no, they just didn’t know a lot about what they’d be receiving,” said Sole. “It’s going to take a little bit of time. So, I don’t look at it as a rejection, I look at is as not right now. Forty-five percent, nearly 45%, that’s really good. We just got a little bit more work to do.”

Opponents of police abolition reported feeling extremely nervous going into election night. They were expecting a razor thin margin among the electorate. However, the 12-point margin gave opponents some breathing room knowing that a significant portion of the city is in agreement with the idea that abolition is the wrong track.

One opponent who sued the state in order to get the question removed from the ballot, said he’s not opposed to reforming the Minneapolis Police Department. He said he believes the increase in crime in Minneapolis is what drove the margins against abolition.

“I think Minneapolis came, you know, they came to the plate and decided that we can’t live like this. It’s a shame,” said Bruce Dachis. “I mean, it’s horrible. I can’t imagine how people can say that we don’t need someone to police what is going on everywhere in this city.”

With opponents breathing a sigh of relief and supporters energized to bring it to a closer margin in the future, the prospects for the department are currently secure. According to the city charter, the city is required to maintain a certain number of officers on its force.

The department is currently over 200 officers short of this requirement and they are trying to fill those vacancies and return order to the city following over a year of instability.

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