Charter commission rejects Minneapolis council’s public safety amendment

A poster is placed on a tree
A poster memorializing Jamar Clark on Oct. 22 sits on a tree near the spot where he was killed by Minneapolis police in November 2015. Protesters gathered nearby to protest police killings in Minneapolis. Activists have pressed the city of Minneapolis to make broad changes in policing.
Ben Hovland for MPR News file

After stalling the Minneapolis City Council’s bid to possibly overhaul the Police Department via changing the city’s constitution three months ago, the charter commission voted Wednesday to formally reject that proposal.

Since August, a commission subgroup had continued to study the finer points of the council’s proposal, which if passed by voters would have cleared the way for the council to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new community safety and violence prevention department. On Monday, that working group voted unanimously to reject the proposal. The full commission concurred with that decision.

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 on June 7.
Liam James Doyle for MPR News file

The commission's rejection of the proposed amendment won't necessarily keep it from voters in the 2021 election. Now that the charter commission has fulfilled its statutory obligation, the council can choose to place the original proposal on the ballot.

It's also possible for a citizen-led amendment to be placed on the ballot, provided they can gather enough signatures. That could be a heavy lift. 

State law requires the number of signatures on the petition be at least five percent of the number of votes cast in the previous election. At last count, more than 237,000 Minneapolis voters cast ballots this year, a new record. A citizen petition will require nearly 12,000 signatures to get on the 2021 ballot.

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