MINNEAPOLIS – Seven candidates for the Minneapolis City Council answered affirmatively when asked on a voter guide if they could envision a world without any police officers in Minneapolis.
Voices for Racial Justice worked with Pollen Midwest and Rhymesayers Entertainment to design and administer the questions for city council hopefuls, and then post the results online as a voter guide.
Candidates were asked if they could envision a Minneapolis without police, and what they would do as an elected official to bring the city closer to the abolition of police. Most of the seven city council candidates who answered affirmatively to the first question pledged to work to better fund education and social programs and address criminal elements at their roots in an effort to reduce the need for police officers.
Some ramped up the rhetoric quite heavily against the police though.
“We are at a pivotal crossroads, and I pledge to stand on the side of the people — especially long-marginalized groups — to chart a better path for our future,” wrote Ward 11 DFL candidate Jeremy Schroeder. “The current police system is built around a culture of prejudice, violence, and intolerance. None of this is acceptable, and I will not stand for it.”
“There has to be political will. Fear based governance has given places like North Minneapolis little leverage in demanding better service from police, much less imagining a world without them, but I think we can start by promoting programs that have proven to work in reducing youth violence, and petty crime,” wrote Jeremiah Ellison, the DFL endorsed candidate in Ward 5.
Ellison is the son of Congressman Keith Ellison. Alongside Schroeder, the other candidates with intense optimism are Socialist Alternative Ward 3 candidate Ginger Jentzen, Philippe Cunningham in Ward 4 with the DFL, Janne Flisrand with the DFL in Ward 7, and incumbent DFL City Councilwomen Alondra Cano and Lisa Bender in Wards 9 and 11.
Most city council members were more realistic about the world. More than twice as many respondents said they could not imagine a police-free Minneapolis, and nearly three times as many candidates declined to answer the question or the survey entirely. That includes many of the incumbent members of the Minneapolis City Council.
“I don’t want to abolish the police,” wrote Ward 5 DFL candidate Raeisha Williams. “I want them to do what they’re paid to do. Which is to protect and serve.”