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Minneapolis for Community Control of Police launches petition to change city charter

By staff

Irma Burns, mother of Jamar Clark, is the first to sign the petition to establis

Minneapolis, MN – Nearly 150 people rallied in North Minneapolis, March 25, to launch a massive voter petition campaign to amend the city charter and establish an all-elected Civilian Police Accountability Commission (CPAC).

They began outside the Minneapolis Police Department 4th Precinct building on Plymouth Avenue. Once the site of an 18-day occupation demanding justice for Jamar Clark in 2015, the precinct building is now surrounded by barricades, fencing and barbed wire, like other police precincts and government buildings in the city where killer cop Derek Chauvin is on trial for the murder of George Floyd.

The Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar (TCC4J) has been organizing for several years to build support for community control of the police. This start of the petition campaign, politically organized by the new grouping called Minneapolis for Community Control of Police (MCCP), is a major step. Once MCCP gathers the signatures of about 12,000 registered voters, the charter amendment can go on the ballot.

Several movement leaders addressed the media and supporters on the significance of fighting for community control in the city that sparked a national rebellion in response to Floyd’s murder. Emcees Destiny Franks and Sam Martinez kept the energy high with chants between speakers.

After the main speakers, there was the official signing of the first petition. Jamar Clark’s mother, Irma Burns, was the very first person to sign, followed by her husband. Then folks from across the city – Black, native and white, including a union president and a great grandmother – filled in the rest of the page, with the crowd cheering after each signer.

CPAC is community control of police

CPAC – an all elected Civilian Police Accountability Commission – puts the power over police in the hands of those that are most affected by police violence. The CPAC would have hiring and firing power, which would allow them to remove cops with previous records of abuse and violence. The CPAC would also set policy and protocol for interacting with civilians, and any and all complaints would be reviewed to ensure that officers are taken off the streets immediately following an incident. Additionally, because the main goal of a CPAC is to give power to the community, they ultimately decide whether to abolish, dismantle or defund police, not members of city government whose main concern is protecting property and profit over people.

A TCC4J statement notes, “We demand the power to decide who polices our communities and how our communities are policed. We demand the power to get racist and violent cops off our streets – no more serial killers! We've had enough with leaving power in the hands of a mayor and City Council that have failed to hold police accountable. We're done with letting the police ‘police’ themselves – because they just don't. Enough is enough, it's time to fight for community control of police. In Minneapolis, that fight begins with amending the city charter to establish an elected Civilian Police Accountability Commission.”

The crowd then marched a few blocks to the site where Jamar Clark was killed in 2015, where the rally continued, there were homemade cupcakes for all, provided by movement youth, and every Minneapolis resident in attendance clamored for their chance to sign the petition for CPAC.

The community speaks out

Several speakers addressed the crowd at the 4th Precinct building and at the closing rally.

Jae Yates, of TCC4J said the group “has fought against police brutality alongside the families of Jamar Clark, Justin Teigen, Marcus Golden and many others fighting for justice for stolen lives. CPAC is a tangible, radical proposition that carries forward the vision of the Black Panther Party of the 60s, a vision where the people have direct control over policing. It is a concrete plan that emphasizes accountability for the families who continue to grieve those stolen from them by police. It gives people the power to defund, discipline and, in the words of Frank Chapman of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, ‘regulate the police out of existence.’ It is the communities that are most affected by police violence that know what we need and what we don’t.”

Yates closed by saying, “While others push for meaningless diversity trainings, name changes and toothless, vague reforms, we fight for true change, aligned with the larger struggle for Black liberation and sovereignty for all oppressed nations. We at TCC4J stand with the National Alliance, the families fighting for justice for their loved ones, and all people who organize for a future free of police terror. All power to the people!”

Cherrene Horazuk, president of AFSCME Local 3800 and member of Minnesota Workers United told the crowd, “Hundreds of AFSCME 3800 members live in the neighborhood here, where Jamar Clark was killed, and in the neighborhood where George Floyd was killed by the police. The mere fact that an organization like the Minneapolis Police Federation calls itself a trade union does not make it part of the labor movement. You are not part of the labor movement and not a real union if you defend white supremacy and brutality in your midst.”

Horazuk continued, “We are here to say to the elected and police officials in the city of Minneapolis: You’ve had your chance to hold the police accountable. You have failed. And with each killing by the police, you have failed more and more spectacularly. We’re here today as a union to band with others to demand a Civilian Police Accountability Commission. The time is now for community control.”

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR Minnesota, blasted the city’s weak complaint review process, saying it has gotten “3000 complaints in its eight years. Of those, only 20 officers have faced some form of discipline. That is less than half a percent of complaints. And the majority of people who face police brutality, fear retribution and intimidation from the police, so they never bring forth those complaints, including my own brother who was brutalized by the police, who did not bring forward a case because he feared the police.”

Hussein then went on to acknowledge Jalyne Murray, a Black youth who exposed an incident where police punched and brutalized youth. “That’s what we need. We need people to take back the control. The idea of community control of police has existed for a long time. They have given us, many places across this country, a watered down version, where citizens are not able to fire, where citizens are not able to hold police accountable. Here in Minneapolis, we can start and create the best form of community control of police. That is what we need. This system lives in a closed system. It lives in darkness. It never likes a little bit of light. It does not like transparency. It does not like accountability.”

He mentioned an eight-bill package of police accountability measures that groups have been pressuring for at the state capitol, including one strengthening community control all over the state. “People have been asking, what is the solution? Here is a solution right in front of you: community control of the police.”

Longtime community leader and activist, Samantha Pree-Gonzalez said that the city of Minneapolis budget has “a permanent line item that is funding death in this city, because we know that the cops are going to murder people. We know that someone is going to lose an eye or a limb or some other issue to the point where the city actually funds a permanent line-item for this. What we’re saying is, we don’t want to pay for death. We want to pay for life! It’s time to have control of our communities. Not just police, but beyond policing.”

Travis Jordan and George Floyd were remembered by loved ones Paul Johnson and Cortez Rice, who spoke about these men killed by Minneapolis police. Movement leader Michelle Gross spoke, as did Anti-War Committee member Meredith Aby-Keirstead.

The Minneapolis for Community Control of Police campaign includes Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar and is supported by Black Lives Matter Twin Cities Metro, Blue LIES Matter, CAIR Minnesota, Families Supporting Families, Justice for Marcus Golden, Native Lives Matter, AFSCME Local 3800, AFSCME Local 2822, Anti-War Committee, FRSO Twin Cities, MN Workers United, MN Immigrant Rights Action Committee, Student Movement Activists of South High, Twin Cities Omega Zuluz (Zulu Union), UMN Students for a Democratic Society, Women Against Military Madness.

Samantha Pree-Gonzalez.

Destiny Franks and Jaelah Lymon at the front of the march.

#MinneapolisMN #PeoplesStruggles #PoliceBrutality #TwinCitiesCoalition4JusticeForJamarTCC4J #CivilianPoliceAccountabilityCommissionCPAC