Since the murder of George Floyd, community organizers have worked tirelessly to create a new vision for public safety in Minneapolis. This upcoming election is a culmination of that work: you will get to vote on the creation of a new Department of Public Safety that will be transparent and accountable to the people. This will be Question 2 on our ballots.
Yesterday, a Pawlenty-appointed conservative judge ruled that the ballot language for the proposed charter amendment was “unreasonable” and Minneapolis residents should not be allowed to vote on it. Lawyers for the City and Yes 4 Minneapolis have filed an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court, and the petition for expedited review has been approved. In the coming days, we will get a ruling from the Supreme Court on whether or not we will be allowed to vote on Question 2.
This past spring, I signed the petition to get this charter amendment on the ballot. I then worked with like-minded neighbors down by the Lake Harriet Bandshell to gather more signatures. I met an ER doctor, a former 911 operator, young people, and longtime Minneapolis residents who all signed because they know our current public safety system isn’t working. Over 500 people in Ward 13 signed it: people from all different backgrounds participated in this democratic process. In the end, Yes 4 Minneapolis collected over 20,000 signatures across Minneapolis. Then, language was drafted and approved by the city council and mayor. This is how the proposed charter amendment got on the ballot. All of the required steps were followed, and even exceeded. (Only 12,000 signatures are technically required to have a charter amendment on the ballot.) I am startled that our right to vote on this is now in jeopardy.
So, what do you need to know?
The current ballot language is reasonable and we deserve to vote. Learn all the details and possible effects of the public safety charter amendment in this FAQ from the Sahan Journal or this piece, by local independent journalist John Edwards. Hennepin County has already printed our ballots, which include Question 2, and early voting starts on Friday.
I am optimistic that the Supreme Court will intervene before Friday and do the right thing: let the people vote. I encourage you to follow Yes 4 Minneapolis channels on social media to stay up-to-date on the latest developments.
And if you’re curious about what an alternative public safety system could look like, Michael Friedman, former executive director of the Legal Rights Center and former chair of the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority, writes about one possible model here.
What can you do?
Please show up at the #LetThePeopleVote rally for democracy on Friday, September 17 at 3pm, organized by Yes 4 Minneapolis. We will meet at the Hennepin County Government Center Plaza, at 300 South 6th Street. We deserve to vote on the future of public safety in Minneapolis this year.
Regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, we will be starting early voting in an incredibly consequential election on Friday. We need to elect a progressive Council and Mayor with a vision for an equitable city. Channel your frustration and energy into helping us get out the vote.
Donate $25, $50, or $100 to make sure we can reach every Ward 13 resident.
Please support both of the progressive, experienced, and trustworthy mayoral candidates challenging Mayor Frey this year. I will be ranking both Kate Knuth and Sheila Nezhad on my ballot and I encourage you to do the same.
The conservative pushback against this initial attempt at structural police reform is hard to watch, but not surprising. Take care of yourself and find a way to get involved. It’s time we meet the moment.