Minneapolis City Councilmember Phillipe Cunningham once claimed that “community engagement” is key to defunding the police. Now, Cunningham has canceled his “Community Office Hours” after facing backlash due to the council’s efforts to defund law enforcement.
Cunningham has served on the council since 2017, when he became the second female-to-male transgender person elected to public office in the U.S. Cunningham also took a key role in the push to amend the City Charter to defund the police in June, and presently heads up the continued action towards this goal.
One week ago, Cunningham, Steve Fletcher and Jeremy Schroeder unveiled a new plan to neuter the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). The trio introduced a measure called the “Transforming Public Safety Charter Amendment” that would eliminate the MPD as a standalone department.
The new amendment seeks to alter the City Charter to nix the requirement that the city provide funding for a minimum number of MPD officers, according to Minnesota Public Radio. It would then replace the police department with a so-called “Department of Public Safety.” The amendment, if passed by the council, will be voted on by Minneapolis residents in November 2021.
Cunningham’s perpetual involvement in the effort to gut Minneapolis law enforcement has not gone over well with many residents of the city, however.
Cunningham recently claimed in a Twitter post that his “totally reasonable” attempts to bring about “transformation” of law enforcement have resulted in threats of violence. Shortly after, the councilmember chose to isolate himself from his constituents by permanently canceling “Community Office Hours.”
Cunningham previously said he believes that “community engagement” is key to successfully moving “towards a city without police.”
Rather than meeting with his constituents, Cunningham now says inquiries and feedback should be delivered by email or phone.
This is not the first time Cunningham has faced public criticism for her leadership of the movement to defund the MPD.
He endured backlash in July after it was uncovered that he spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on private security as he tried to remove police from the city. Despite this, his Facebook banner photo appears to show him guarded by a “crime prevention” agent at a small event.
Cunningham was also widely criticized after he claimed “white supremacists” facilitated arsons during the George Floyd riots.
“In North Minneapolis … we’ve been dealing with far right-wing, and white supremacist groups terrorizing our community by burning down black-owned businesses,” he claimed during a livestreamed event with former President Barack Obama, per Breitbart.