Fact check: Did Minneapolis City Council defund the police? And did Trump call in the National Guard?  

Minneapolis City Council members discuss defunding police department
Nine Minneapolis City Council members declared their commitment to defunding and dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department alongside community groups Black Visions and Reclaim The Block, during a gathering that drew a crowd at Powderhorn Park on Sunday afternoon, June 7.
Liam James Doyle for MPR News

In the months following the police killing of George Floyd and amid calls to dismantle the police, Minneapolis has been at the center of national news and intrigue.

While there’s plenty of fodder in the city for debate, facts need to be at the center of it.

Did Minneapolis actually defund its police department?

On Wednesday, the New York Post topped a story with this headline: “Minneapolis City Council alarmed by crime surge after defunding police.”

The piece heavily cited an MPR News article from Tuesday. Our story reported that Minneapolis City Council members were pressing Police Chief Medaria Arradondo with questions about how the department was responding to a rise in violent crime.

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Some background: In June, the City Council forwarded a proposal to the city’s charter commission that would have given voters a chance to eliminate the existing funding requirement for the police department. That would have allowed the city to defund and dismantle the department and create a new Community Safety and Violence Prevention department.

But in August, the city’s charter commission decided it needed more time to consider the council’s proposal. That killed any chance that voters would see the proposal on the ballot this November. The commission’s actions essentially halted any effort to defund or dismantle the police department until at least next year.

So, it’s incorrect to say the police department has been defunded, as in, an overhaul or abolition of MPD as we know it.

But, it does depend how you’re defining “defunded.”

The City Council moved $1.1 million from the police to the health department to fund “violence interrupters” who would mediate conflicts and head off further trouble.

Some people think of defunding as shifting money from police departments to spend on other priorities, such as mental health services and other programs, to bolster public safety. Still, it’s worth noting in this case that the amount of money the council diverted is less than a percentage point of the police department’s budget.

Who called in the National Guard?

On Friday, both President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are making campaign stops in northern Minnesota.

In recent weeks, Trump has returned often to the destruction in Minneapolis to press his “law and order” case. But his telling of what transpired and over what time period has often been false or exaggerated.

Trump told Fox News last week that Minneapolis “was burning for two weeks before the National Guard came in.” In Wisconsin on Thursday, Trump said leaders in Minnesota “shouldn’t have allowed it to go on for 11 days. They should have called us immediately.”

In reality, the National Guard began mobilizing and moving in a few days after George Floyd’s Memorial Day killing by police after peaceful protests devolved into confrontations with police and damage to public and private buildings. The streets of Minneapolis had largely calmed days later.

Trump also claimed credit for sending in the Guard, when that was a decision by Gov. Tim Walz, who is commander in chief of his state’s Guard. During the tumult, however, Trump offered to send in active-duty military, an offer Walz considered but never acted upon.