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Today, we resume our series about the voters and the country in the lead up to the election. They don't respect, you know, they go.


Ow, ow, ow, that beep means that instead forgot the keys in the car from The New York Times, this is the field Hemostat Herndon in Minnesota.


So this is Powderhorn Park in south Minneapolis, there's a big lake in the middle with a pathway wrapped around it, pretty quiet neighborhood. So much has happened in the city since the killing of George Floyd. But this is a police station burning out of control overnight.


The National Guard has been deployed to the downtown Minneapolis police officer Jerry Schavan is in custody.


And it was here where an event happened that really changed the trajectory of the relationship between Minneapolis and police.


But on June 7th, there was an event put on by two social justice organizations in Minneapolis, groups called Reclaim the Block and Black Visions Collective, black people and queer people and trans people and indigenous people and disabled people and immigrants and poor people.


We have never looked to the police for our safety.


There's a stage, there's littered crowds around in front of the stage, leather spell out, defund police.


We're here because now is the time to dismantle. And then they bring up nine members of the city council.


Yes, they out here, y'all. This is brave.


You know, the first council member to speak is Lisa Bender, Minneapolis.


You look so beautiful today, the president of the city council and she makes a clear pledge.


Our commitment is to end our city's toxic relationship with the Minneapolis police department, to end policing as we know it, and to recreate that sense of public safety that actually keep us safe. And one by one, this council is going to dismantle this police department, the other city councillors take the microphone, all that money has been going into the police department.


And what have we got in return? Pain, trauma and hurt and read statements in support that we should and can abolish our current Minneapolis police system.


De de de de de de la. Just about an hour ago, you had a thousand people here calling for the Minneapolis police department to be disbanded. They wanted to immediately.


The pledge by the city council at Powderhorn Park is a national and international news story.


Nine of Minneapolis councils, 13 members say they would create a new system of public safety.


Council's president said she has a veto proof majority to move forward with the plan and that a majority of the city council, a veto proof majority of the city council, has endorsed the idea of not just the funding but abolishing the police department. This moment has transformed the conversation locally and nationally about policing reform.


The data is starting to show that voters are increasingly identifying the need to maintain law and order as an election issue. Let's talk about that.


As the general election approaches, Midwestern states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota may be decisive in the outcome.


Now they want to defund the entire department. This is not going to be anybody to protect you.


And then President Trump has been focusing a lot of energy in Minnesota. And that's why I'm going to win the state of Minnesota. I'm going to win. A state that he narrowly lost in 2016, he has used the city council's pledge that day as evidence for one of his rallying cries divided on the left gained power.


They will dismantle police departments nationwide. I'll tell you the community.


But what's really happening in Minneapolis is the police department going to be abolished and will it matter in November?


So this is Thursday morning instead. Hotel room, phone call interviews, doo doo doo doo doo.


This is the audio gold we need. Hello. Hi, my name is is that Herndon? I'm a reporter with The New York Times. Is this Miski? This is me speaking. Hi. Hi. Thanks for taking some time out of Miski.


Nor is an activist with Black Vision's Collective, one of the groups responsible for bringing the city council to the event, a Powderhorn Park.


Yes, I'm one of the founding committee members and I'm also co-director of the organization.


Minneapolis as a whole is a very progressive place. The mayor, Jacob Frye, is a liberal Democrat. All 13 members of the city council consider themselves to be liberal Democrats. But even within this kind of progressive bubble, Black Vision stands out as one of the most powerful social justice organizations. And while for many people, the idea of abolishing the police may seem like it was born this summer, Black Visions has actually been fighting for this for a year.


And so in twenty eighteen, we started actually putting pressure on our city council and our mayor around the police budget.


Miski says their first public push toward dismantling the police department in Minneapolis came in twenty eighteen and we were actually able to win and move one point one million dollars out of the Minneapolis Police Department and move that into the Office of Violence Prevention, which is really, really exciting.


If if you all needed to push the city council to get a one million dollar reduction in the budget. And then earlier this year, the city council announces that it will seek to dismantle the police department altogether. That seems like a large gap to me. How did that change happen?


Yeah. To understand how that change happened, you have to understand what transpired in the week between two city council meetings in late May and early June.


Thank you, everyone, and thank you, Mayor, for your May 30th.


Just days after George Floyds death, one of the main topics of discussion really for two nights in a row, there was really no law enforcement presence in north Minneapolis and was the need for a stronger police response in certain neighborhoods in order to stop rioting.


You know, I was on site with friends trying to help put out the fire at the the Fayed factory, formerly known as Mr. Apro.


And as far as what to do about police reform, this is going to take community engagement and the solutions should grow from the grass roots, so to speak up, and not necessarily be figured out by us in a room or individually.


It's clear the council was open to suggestions that we've got some tools and things.


And then that week, our city council members experienced the response of our community and they saw the response in the piece.


They saw the escalation.


What's left for me to do without the righteous rage, the pain, the grief, the anger, put pressure on them for them to understand that the people are way past reform and are demanding true transformation and true safety.


And I thought this country was built on the backs of people of color. No. By the next city council meeting on June 5th, as a council member, I will tell you that I am not interested in any more reforms. The tone had clearly shifted.


I'm committed to complete transformation. I am seeing so many people stepping up and saying this system does not work, this system cannot be reformed and we must do something different and people and myself are just done with incremental change.


It's been tried for decades. We know that then we have to completely rethink public safety for our city.


And we also know that our community is tired.


They've asked for change over and over and over, and they want to see urgency in the next day on June six. It was a now infamous scene of Mayor Frye being surrounded by activists outside his house. That event was actually led by Black Vision. There was a relatively large group of people that were protesting that came to my home. They asked that I come out.


How are you going to vote right now? The only question we have will abolish the Minneapolis police department.


You know, it's right at the time the scene made the mayor look incredibly vulnerable against the momentum of the movement and the will of the people. He's asked in that moment to make a commitment.


I want it to be straightforward. I answered their question honestly and directly.


I do not support. I don't support abolishing the police department, and he slowly makes his way through the crowd, back toward his home, looking defeated.


And the next day, on June seven, all of us on this stage support this statement and we stand with the people back and reclaim the black hope that event and Powderhorn Park with the city council members.


I think that they could not deny the moment. I think that they had to feel the will of the people. And these were solutions we were already talking about. And so I want to make it really clear that, like, it's not that Minneapolis has some magically progressive city council, but because community members and organizers have been putting pressure on them to do the right thing. And that is why we believe that the true power lies with the people. But when you speak with the people of Minneapolis, I don't want to see the police department being dismantled.


I want this police department to be reformed. I want I want new policing.


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You guys want to just walk down here? Sure, OK, yeah, you take us. So this is your neighborhood? Well, yeah.


OK, so we met Kathy Spane in the Jordan neighborhood of North Minneapolis.


I'm the executive director of the Joinery Community Council. Now we are the neighborhood association for this area.


It's a majority black neighborhood of around eight thousand people. Cathy has been here for nearly 30 years.


What I love is, you know, people like, you know, the business owners and you wave you know, Sammy, that Sammy Avenue eatery, you know, the guys that urban homeworks, you know, the staff and juxtaposition. And it's just like, hey, how's it going?


And Cathy says, the city council vote marked a turning point.


We're going to walk just a little bit and up here on 20, 30. And Emerson was one of our shooting. So that's why we're not going to walk a lot in the neighborhood. We've had shootings, said 20, 30, James 20 third and Irving twenty third and Emerson twenty seventh. And Oliver knocks on Queen. We've had shootings on Larrie at the gas station area. We have been under siege with gunfire.


It's true that like in other cities, there's been a pronounced uptick in violence in Minneapolis this summer. Since Memorial Day, violent crime is up 25 percent compared to the same period last year. And violent crime in north Minneapolis, neighborhoods like Jordan is up even more over 30 percent from the year to date. Annual average.


You made an announcement and people heard two things dismantle, defund. And for some people with a criminal element, I don't know what that what they heard. They must have hurt no police. But the violence escalated while Kathy draws a direct line from the city council pledged to criminal behavior.


We can't say that for sure. What we can say is that the protest movement and the city council pledge affected police behavior. The mayor has announced that dozens of officers have left the department so far this year going on medical leave or quitting the force entirely. And because of the economic devastation from the coronavirus, Lockdown's the city of Minneapolis has enacted a hiring freeze through 2021. So no more police officers will be brought on the force for a long time. All in all, the mayor says he expects 100 officers to leave by the end of this year.


And I do fault them for that. Yes. What do you think about that moment in Powderhorn Park where they made the pledge? Oh, yeah. What did you think when you heard it?


I think emotionally this is a hot topic for all of us. And I think that I think they were emotionally charged to try to do the right thing.


I want to believe that that their intent was right. The track to get to righteousness was wrong, because what they didn't do after they had this enormous announcement, they didn't think about the impact on black and brown communities such as this. They didn't engage black and brown people to say, what should we do? What should we do? This is the path we're going down. Is this the right path? They they put together a plan on a Wednesday, put it to a vote on a Friday, send it to the charter commission and the charter commission, start doing their due diligence.


Kathy's talking about a piece of legislation the city council drafted at the end of June to formalize the pledge that they took in the park after they made their park announcement, the city council began the bureaucratic work of making it possible to dismantle the police department. And they realized that the city's charter, the document that defines the structure of city government in Minneapolis, specifically mandates a minimum number of police officers, as well as police oversight from the mayor's office rather than the city council.


This presented a problem for the city councillors. In order to dismantle the police department, the council would first have to change that city charter and in order to change the charter, they'd have to propose a charter amendment that would have to be voted on by residents. In order to get that charter amendment on the ballot this year to be voted on, it would need to be approved by the city's charter commission and unelected, mostly white volunteer group. On Wednesday, June 24th, the City Council drafted an amendment to replace the police department with a quote, Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, unquote.


The new agency will, quote, prioritize a holistic and public health oriented approach, unquote, to public safety. And it will be overseen by the council and not the mayor, etc.. Within this new system, the council may maintain a division of armed officers, but there were no specific details about the makeup of the agency. Two days later, and without any public hearing, the council unanimously voted to send that proposal to the charter commission.


So what do we do? We dismantle and disband the police department. And then what? Then what?


Cathy was upset.


She and many others felt this new Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention was way too vague.


Who do I call in cases of rape? Who do I call in cases of domestic violence? Who do I call? If I have a child that is mentally ill, who do I call? I said there's something about what they're trying to do. Does not sit right with me. It feels like they're violating my civil rights and feel like they're violating my my human rights because I have a right to be safe in my home on the streets. I have a right to be safe.


I said to the city of Minneapolis, Kathy sued the city, along with seven other residents, alleging that Minneapolis leaders have violated their duties to fund, employ and manage a police force as required by the city charter. It's a lawsuit that's ongoing. And then in early August, the city charter commission voted 10 to five to spend more time reviewing the city council's charter proposal, killing any chances of it being on the ballot this year and guaranteeing there would be no significant steps to dismantle the police department in Minneapolis until at least twenty twenty one.


Who's the rep for this area for the jobs council member, Jeremi Alison, so he took the pledge.


Cathy's council representative is Jeremiah Ellison, one of the most, if not the most outspoken proponents of dismantling the police department.


So what is the disconnect between what you're saying the residents here want and needed and what the elected official says the residents want? Anita, is he listening? And that's what I'm going to say. Is he truly listening? And I think that if you step back and truly listen, he will see that residents are saying, we want a system that is reformed, we do want new police, and we do want it to be a different approach to how they handle and and treat black men in black women.


We do want that, but we need a system that also protects us.


So polling conducted by the Minneapolis Star Tribune just after the charter commission vote supports Cathy's position of wanting police reform, but not a full dismantling of the department. In the poll, 73 percent of residents, including 76 percent of black residents, said Minneapolis should redirect some funding from the police department to social services such as mental health, drug treatment or violence prevention programs. But when asked if they should reduce the size of its police force, 40 percent of residents say that they should, but 44 percent said they should not.


And among black residents, only 35 percent said they should, but 50 percent said they should not. And nearly half of those polled said they believe reducing the size of the police force would have a negative effect on public safety.


If you get rid of the police department, then what do you do? What's the plan? And that's all I'm saying. What's the plan? Have you seen a plan? There you go. I felt like it was important that we commit to something like reimagining public safety all together. This is Jeremiah Ellyson. I think sometimes there's a there's a give and take with this job. You definitely have to be willing to listen to your constituents, but you also cannot be leaderless in this role and sometimes you have to be a little bit ahead of your time and be a little bit ahead of your constituency.


But I don't think that you can pass the baton when you're facing a moral question. And I think that the I think that in those moments, it's important that you engage your moral compass. Win or lose, whatever the political risks, it's important that you engage your moral compass when you're facing an issue like that.


So the plan says we are here today to begin the process of ending the Minneapolis police department and that will leave is to be a goal of a city council and local government.


Yeah, I do. Elephant stands behind the pledge to dismantle the police department, but some of the other council members who are beside him on that stage, a Powderhorn Park, like a pledge, I didn't raise my right hand.


I didn't sign a piece of paper on it. They seem to be backing off. I supported the spirit of the statement and was willing to stand with colleagues and in as an ally in this work.


Council member Andrew Johnson says he stood with the pledge to dismantle the police department in spirit, but not in a literal sense.


I would venture to say probably a majority were taking it in the spirit. I talked with one colleague afterwards who is kind of waxing and waning on what it meant. When you say and MPD, this colleague said, you know, I mean, technically, if you rename the department and. I saw the pledge as as an aspiration, for example, living in a police free city, council member Phillip Cunningham took the pledge of Powderhorn to.


I think that there has to be a clarification between the police department and law enforcement. So I do support the replacement of the police department with a more comprehensive Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. That does not mean that I support the elimination of law enforcement. And, you know, folks will define, defund and dismantle differently. And so, you know, it's like when we say defund the police in this particular context, it was reallocate some resources to that comprehensive approach.


Does not mean it to zero. No, we're not talking about abolishing the police.


The language from Powderhorn Park, it felt pretty clear at the time you said that you were going to begin the process of ending the Minneapolis police department.


And so I think it feels understandable why people would take that as you wanting to abolish the police.


Yes. And that's where the mistake was because we were talking about was ending it as it currently exists, which is as its own standalone entity.


I'm confused because you you say that there was confusion amongst my colleagues that this was this pledge was in spirit and not literal thing when they Linea Palmisano is one of three city council members who were not on stage at Powderhorn Park, though she says the activist groups who organized the event did ask her to stand with the pledge, take their pledge.


They were very, very clear that the words in here are very literal. They're meant to be taken quite seriously and that if you don't ascribe to all of the language in this pledge, then you are not welcome up on stage at this event, because we are pledging all of your colleagues here as to whether or not they support this initiative. How has this legislative body that seems so unified in June around dismantling the police, even to the point of drafting legislation to open the door of replacing the police department, becomes so scattered in their accounts of what it all meant?


Can I I my name is we've been trying to get Lisa bendir the council president to help us make sense of all this on our last day in Minneapolis. She agreed to stop you just getting out of here.


Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, it's yeah. Nothing. This is you don't have to worry about your work. She said Myskina was right, activist groups did play a big role in the councils pledge.


They've organized in every ward of the city in a sustained way since 2015. So council members all have relationships with those organizations to varying degrees.


Yeah, I guess I get that they have that they've been organizing consistently, that they have these relationships. It didn't just start in that moment. But I mean, the the the pledge moment is a unique one. So what led to taking that next step? Know their initial ask was for a pledge related to cutting the police budget. I did not feel comfortable in that moment signing on to a specific budget cut. No, but I did feel like I could commit to a value statement that I felt represented the majority position of my constituents.


You described the statement as a as a value set. The activists said that they were very clear with the counselors that they meant a kind of literal endorsement of of the words. It was that clear to you at the time that this was a literal endorsement of ending the Minneapolis to police department? There are city councilors who who have told us this week that they said that in spirit and didn't mean it literally, that the language in retrospect was confusing. Is that something that you look back on and agree with?


I do agree with the statement we made. I think. We could have and need to be more clear about the type a realistic timeline for us to make that kind of change. I would more say that we need to dismantle the police department as it stands and work toward a police free future.


But I mean, in my imagination, that is likely far away if it is likely far away.


Why did the council in this moment embrace that message for me?


I think. I am hearing more and more from my constituents, policing isn't working right, and so we we signed on to language that activist organizations asked us to support, and I think we could have been more ready to show how that pledge would translate into the city of. Bureaucratic. Process oriented system that would have been very difficult to to do. I mean, so say we have taken another week and tried to come up with a community engagement plan that was ready to go.


I mean, that would have been I'm not sure we could have achieved that because of the level of public pressure.


Because our our city system doesn't work that fast. Was there adequate community engagement before the pledge? Yeah, it's a great question. At the time, I felt that the engagement I have been doing as a council member for many years supported the position I was taking, but in retrospect, I think it could have benefited from more comi engagement ahead of the pledge. But at the same time, I mean, we also have thousands of people in the streets demanding change.


And again, not cheap, not like reform. Your police department demanding we need to rethink public safety as an institution. I mean, we have to start somewhere, so I'm not sure I mean, you know, what a public hearing have helped maybe. You know, and maybe this is just a public perception thing rather than what you're describing, but the pledge sucked up so much of the oxygen of what the council was pushing towards.


Did you know or expect that to happen?


No. Yeah, I mean, I didn't realize how many council members would be there. I didn't realize how much. Attention, it would gather. They're burning Minneapolis, you don't think of Minneapolis that way, right? You don't think of it. The city is burning down. The defund movement has gathered a lot of attention while the local Democratic support isn't there. And it's stalled out in Minneapolis. Nationally, of course, it's become a central focus of the 2020 election as President Trump has seized on the message.


Make no mistake, if you give power to Joe Biden, the radical left will defund police departments all across America, that the cities are out of control and that Joe Biden wants to defund the police.


No one will be safe in Biden's America. My administration will always stand with the men and women of law enforcement.


And according to a recent poll conducted by The New York Times in four swing states, which included Minnesota, Trump's messaging has been somewhat effective in turning the attention of voters to what's happening in cities like Minneapolis. Voters are now basically split on the question of whether the coronavirus or maintaining law and order is a more important issue to them. Voters in Minnesota and Wisconsin think that Joe Biden has not done enough to condemn violent rioting and across the four swing states that the Times poll.


Forty four percent of voters believe Joe Biden supports defunding the police.


No, I don't support defunding the police. I support conditions. To be clear, he does not. But a closer read of the poll shows something else. The president's rhetoric has actually done little to effect Joe Biden's support in those same states, he's leading President Trump by a nine point margin in Minnesota. That's seven points better than Clinton did in the state in 2016, because while the president has been able to turn the focus to law and order, voters don't necessarily trust him to do a better job on the issue.


That forty four percent of voters who think Joe Biden wants to defund the police, that's mostly the president's base and they're not up for grabs anyway. And one way of understanding, all those voters who want Biden to be more forceful in condemning rioting is that they include ideologically moderate voters who are genuinely troubled by the side of looting and rioting and want Biden to offer a compelling counternarrative to President Trump on law and order because they may want Biden to be elected.


And looked at that way, while the Minneapolis city council's actions may have helped the president with the ammunition he needed to turn this into a national campaign issue. Those same actions by the city council have left Joe Biden in a fairly comfortable position. Certainly didn't feel good watching the video afterwards, and it probably felt even a bit tougher during the moment, you can look back now at that moment outside of Mayor House, days after George Floyds death, when he refused to support abolishing the police.


And it looks like he was out of step with his own city.


But during these times of great difficulty and turbulence, I feel strongly that you need elected leaders to show a sense of stability, of honesty, of integrity. And to me, that just meant telling the truth. The mayor's rivals thought he was in political trouble. I've seen text messages between city councillors at the time saying the mayor missed the moral moment and that their pledge would rise to meet it. But in the end, it's that pledge that turns out to be out of step to where the city is now, a majority of Minneapolis residents, like the majority of Americans, want police reform.


That is where so many people throughout our city are right now. They understand the need for deep structural change. They understand that we need a full on culture shift in the way our police department functions. And they also understand that there are instances that we truly where you need to call 911 one and you need a response from a police officer. Both of those things are true. But because the city council rejected incremental change, the focus became about abolishing the police, an issue that neither the majority of Minneapolis residents nor the majority of Americans support, it totally changed the political conversation.


As a result, the only pressure Democratic politicians like Mayor Fry and Joe Biden have faced is to reject the most sweeping proposals from the progressive left. And that's actually been good for Biden, because while it might make him an uninspiring figure to some on the progressive left, his campaign has chosen a strategy that doesn't really depend on them. They are aiming for a broader and more moderate coalition. Four, by then, it's those moderate voters he needs in November, especially in the Midwest, and rejecting the defund movement only endears him to the.


So while you may hear both Mayor Frye and Biden embracing the language of systemic racism, they face less pressure to actually put forward plans for reform. And for a lot of Minneapolis residents and other Americans, that's sort of the tragedy of the whole story here is this moment when public sentiment, momentum is really there for policing reform. But that's not the conversation we've actually been having. There's been little leadership, no clear path and no plan for what reform will look like.


What this means is that the one thing people find most unacceptable, no change at all, is the most likely outcome. At least for now. Vanguard was founded on the simple but radical idea that an investment company can succeed because it puts investors first, Vanguard is client owned, you own their funds and the funds own Vanguard, which means Vanguard is built to ensure that your interests will be the priority together. Vanguard's 30 million investors are changing the way the world invests.


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