Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
I've spoken to a number of residents across the south Minneapolis district I represent in the Minnesota Senate. I have encountered a wide range of perspectives from folks who are determined to affect positive change and others who are more wary.
What all of us seem to agree upon is that our current armed police-only system of public safety is not keeping us safe.
We need only to read any of the reporting on the Minneapolis Police Department or its political wing, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, to understand why. Consider the recent bombshell revelation from the Minnesota Reformer which gives us an up close look at the gross misconduct of MPD operations during the civil unrest of 2020.
Just days after a Minneapolis officer murdered a man in broad daylight, S.W.A.T. officers responded to the resulting crisis by cruising around in an unmarked white van shooting rubber bullets at anybody they encountered, including Jaleel Stallings, an army veteran whose defensive return fire nearly landed him in prison for attempted murder.
Stallings had no interest in fighting police. He surrendered when he realized his attackers were officers, only to be beaten senseless by frenzied police officers as he lay prone in total surrender.
Our current public safety model is not designed to keep us safe — certainly not those of us from immigrant communities or Black Minnesotans. It's designed to keep us in line, and it's failing at that immoral mission as its officers go further and further down a path of fascism and the people of Minneapolis stop tolerating it.
It's time to put an end to MPD and the Police Federation's stranglehold on the city, and build something better in their place. This is the opportunity given to us by a Department of Public Safety and this is why I am voting YES on City Question 2. I encourage everyone to do so as well.
It is time to vote Yes on Question 2 when your police department is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for crimes against civil rights. When the biggest threat to your city's already-strained budget is the $70 million paid out in police brutality settlements over two decades as well as millions paid to officers themselves who have been traumatized by this disastrous system, it is time to return to democracy and give the people the power to overhaul the system.
If the amendment passes, there will still be police. The difference is that armed police will not be our only option to respond to every single issue no matter how unqualified they are to deal with it. We will have other qualified professionals who are trained in dealing with complex issues. Issues involving addiction, homelessness, mental illness and crises, and disability require resources and compassion from qualified professionals, not armed police response that can lead to escalation, and in the extreme, unnecessary loss of life.
We are still reeling, still suffering from the trauma of the murder of George Floyd and the resulting civil unrest. We have two options. We can take action, make this change and work together as neighbors in the community to ensure that what happened to George Floyd and countless other Black men never happens again.
Or, we can do nothing and guarantee that it does.
The choice is clear. Join me in voting yes on City Question 2.
Omar Fateh, DFL-Minneapolis, is a member of the Minnesota Senate.