The City Council voted in favour of a proposal to amend the city charter to replace the current department with a "Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention" that would prioritise a "holistic" and "public-health oriented" approach.

Shirts were put on statues in front of the 2nd Precinct Police Station during a demonstration on June 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Shirts were put on statues in front of the 2nd Precinct Police Station during a demonstration on June 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (AFP)

The Minneapolis City Council on Friday unanimously advanced a proposal to change the city charter to allow the police department to be dismantled, following widespread criticism of law enforcement over the killing of George Floyd.

The 12-0 vote is just the first step in a process that faces significant bureaucratic obstacles to make the November ballot, where the city’s voters would have the final say. It also comes amid a spate of recent shootings in Minnesota’s largest city that have heightened many citizens’ concerns about talk of dismantling the department.

The proposed amendment, which would replace the police department with a new “Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention” that has yet to be fully defined, next goes to a policy committee and to the city’s Charter Commission for a formal review, at which point citizens and city officials can weigh in.

“I hope that the Charter Commission will recognise the moment that we are in and take our offer of support, however we can provide it, to expedite this process so that voters have a chance to have their voices heard on this important question and this important moment in our city’s history,” Council President Lisa Bender said before the vote.

The Minneapolis force has come under heavy pressure since Floyd, a Black man in handcuffs, died May 25 after a police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes. Activists have long accused the department of being unable to change a racist and brutal culture, and earlier this month, a majority of the council proclaimed support for dismantling the department.

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'Transformative public safety'

Jeremiah Ellison, a member of the council, said after the vote that the charter is one of three major barriers to “transformative public safety,” along with the city's police union and the Minnesota Legislature.

The charter — which requires the city to have a police department of a certain size — is the one thing the city council has a say over, he said.

According to draft language posted online, the new department "will have responsibility for public safety services prioritising a holistic, public health-oriented approach.”

The amendment goes on to say the director of the new agency would have “non-law-enforcement experience in community safety services, including but not limited to public health and/or restorative justice approaches.” It also provides for a division of licensed peace officers who would answer to the department's director.

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Trump signs order to protect monuments

Nation-wide protests have continued across the United States, following the death of Floyd, which have recently led protesters attack monuments

President Donald Trump, on the other hand, has been taking steps to protect the monuments in the country. 

Trump used Twitter on Friday to call for the arrest of protesters involved in this week's attempt to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson from a park directly in front of the White House. He also tweeted that he had signed an executive order to protect monuments, memorials and statues.

Trump retweeted an FBI wanted poster showing pictures of 15 protesters who are wanted for “vandalisation of federal property."

He wrote, “MANY people in custody, with many others being sought for Vandalization of Federal Property in Lafayette Park. 10 year prison sentences!”

Trump later Friday announced his executive order, which he had promised earlier in the week.

READ MORE: A look at US statues toppled for symbolising racism

He described it as “strong” but did not immediately release the text.

He also said on Twitter that he had scrapped plans to spend the weekend at his central New Jersey home to stay in Washington “to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced.”

“These arsonists, anarchists, looters, and agitators have been largely stopped," Trump tweeted. "I am doing what is necessary to keep our communities safe — and these people will be brought to Justice!"

Source: TRTWorld and agencies