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Minneapolis: Petitions turned in to get community control of police on ballot

By Loretta VanPelt

Activists turn in petitions to place community control of the police on the Minneapolis ballot. | Fight Back!News/Michelle Tong

Minneapolis, MN – On Wednesday May 1, Minneapolis 4 Community Control of the Police (M4CCP) held a press conference in the Public Safety Center, the temporary home to city hall offices, to turn in their petitions to put community control of the police on the November ballot.

The petitions call for an amendment to the city charter, to establish an all-elected Civilian Police Accountability Commission (CPAC). The city charter determines the structure of city government and can only be amended by election, or a unanimous decision of the city council with mayoral approval. Citizens can get issues on the ballot by filing a petition signed by 8943 Minneapolis registered voters; the number required is equivalent to 5% of the votes cast in the most-recent general election.

M4CCP filed 10,208 signatures, which the city clerk will verify against the voter rolls over the next ten days. If the verified number falls below the required number, M4CCP has ten more days to file additional signatures to fill the gap. Once the required signatures are reached, there may be legal or bureaucratic challenges, but organizers say they are ready to take them on, and fight to get CPAC onto the November 2024 ballot.

Press conference speakers addressed the importance that CPAC would have in the city of Minneapolis.

Jae Yates, field director for M4CCP, opened the press conference, “First I want to say how proud I am of every single person who has mobilized over the past three years to make this moment possible. TCC4J launched our campaign in the wake of the George Floyd Uprising because we, and members of our community, saw the need for transformation of the balance of power between the people and the police. We were honored to have Jamar Clark’s mother, Irma Burns, be the first person to sign our charter amendment, in memory of her son who was stolen from her and from the Minneapolis community in 2015. And we have been fueled by the support of thousands of people who have seen the brutality visited on communities of working-class people in our city, who said yes to substantive, permanent change that takes the power out of the hands of the cops and puts it into the hands of the people.”

Yates continued, “When George Floyd was killed, Mayor Frey promised us that he would be the mayor to eradicate police brutality in Minneapolis. Instead, what we have seen is millions of taxpayer dollars going to a police department that couldn’t even make it a full year without committing more brutal murders. Amir Locke, Dolal Idd, Tekle Sundberg and Leneal Frazier were all killed by MPD in the years since the Uprising. And yet the mayor danced in the streets with Black children on Juneteenth knowing he had done nothing to address the decades of discrimination and brutality that MPD has visited on Black neighborhoods.”

Stacey Gurian-Sherman, of Minneapolis for a Better Police Contract, who is also an appointed member of the city’s Community Commission on Police Oversight (CCPO), stated, “The need is obvious for an entity that provides effective, independent and fair police accountability. Without that, no reforms are real,” she said. She described countless problems with the CCPO, which the city established a year ago, to address a dysfunctional police conduct review process. “The reality, after a full year, is that it is disturbingly, more of the same.” She described how the CCPO is only empowered to make recommendations, its process has police investigating themselves, and operates behind closed doors, without public transparency.

Gurian-Sherman talked about how CPAC would have independently-elected commissioners, independent investigations, and “determinations, not ‘recommendations,’” declaring, “CPAC provides the answer to the vexing problems of police accountability and oversight that has eluded this city for decades. It’s time the city had a fair, genuine and needed commitment to police oversight. Voters can and must take the reins this November at the ballot box and vote in the Civilian Police Accountability Commission.”

The next speaker was Alissa Washington, of the Wrongfully Incarcerated & Over-sentenced Families Council-MN and an advocate for her husband, Cornelius Jackson, who is sentenced with a life without possibility of parole for a 2006 crime that he did not commit.

Washington stated, “I am here to support CPAC because it is much needed. As we know, most convictions that are wrongfully-incarcerated start with the police. They have our Black and brown men and women who are new slaves. Not the slaves that my ancestors were, but they’re new slaves here, and it’s been going on for far too long. And I believe that we do need our voices heard and something done about the police here in Minneapolis. And you know, just to start in Minneapolis, hopefully it spreads throughout all of Minnesota and across the world.”

Toshira Garraway, founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, said “I am here to stand for the lives that have been stolen unjustly, to stand for the father of my son, Justin Teigen.” Garraway works with many families killed by police, and described the pain she has witnessed from families she works with, including the mothers of Amir Locke and Courtney Williams, both killed by Minneapolis police. I stand with CPAC today because it is time for our community to be the ones stand up to make the decisions, because clearly something has gone drastically and deadly wrong when it comes to the police department.”

After responding to media questions, the group of about 20 descended the escalator carrying stacks of petitions to file with the city clerk. They entered the office chanting, “When killer cops are out on patrol, how do we stop them? Community control!”

M4CCP continues to collect signatures, many were out again that day collecting signatures, including at the annual International Workers Day rally and march in Minneapolis. If you are a registered voter who lives in Minneapolis, contact them right away to sign your name to the petition.

The M4CCP campaign was initiated by Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice, a branch of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR). TCC4J began calling for community control of Minneapolis police in 2017 and started drafting concrete language for CPAC after the 2019 refounding conference of NAARPR. The petition campaign was launched during jury selection for the trial of Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd in March of 2021. Dozens of volunteers have collected signatures by knocking doors, at community events, outside grocery stores, in churches and mosques, on college campuses, and at countless other places in every corner of the city.

#MinneapolisMN #M4CCP #TCC4J #NAARPR #CPAC #Feature