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The public hearing portion of the Des Moines City Council meeting Monday was postponed due to disruptions. Photo courtesy of the city of DSM’s live meeting video

DSM is evaluating extra safety and decorum protocols after dozens of protestors disrupted Monday's City Council meeting, city officials told Axios.

Driving the news: Demonstrators showed up to the council's first in-person meeting of the year with defund police signs, demanding that the city deny a nearly $11K police officer training proposed for later this summer.

Why it matters: While the protests were peaceful, some are concerned they put public safety at risk, including to demonstrators themselves.

  • City leaders are now warning of arrests or citations if such disruptions continue at future meetings.
  • Plus: Unruly meetings make it difficult for citizens to tell elected officials about their concerns.

What they're saying: The council chambers "are like a pressure cooker," and high emotions in such a crowded space can spark panic, Police Sgt. Paul Parizek told Axios yesterday.

  • The actions of a single person in intense group settings can result in behavior that runs counter to the larger group's intentions, he said.

Yes, but: Monday's disruptions are the result of people feeling unheard, Lisa Whelan, of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, told Axios.

Flashback: DSM's problems with decorum during meetings have been going on for months.

  • Rules adopted last year at times limited speakers to less than 30 seconds. Policies have changed, but critics argue they're still too restrictive.

What's next: Monday’s public hearing portion of the council meetings will begin virtually this morning at 7:30am.

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Go deeper

State supreme court approves ballot question on Minneapolis police

A memorial to George Floyd outside the Cup Foods corner store where he died last March. Photo: Nicholas Pfosi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Minneapolis voters will be able to weigh in on the city's police department on the local ballot, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Why it matters: The proposed charter amendment was spurred by mass protests against police brutality after George Floyd's death last year. It would replace the city's police department with a new Department of Public Safety that "could include" police officers "if necessary."

Sep 17, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Police overhaul measure back on ballot as Minneapolis voters head to polls

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Early voting begins in Minneapolis this morning, with a consequential question on the future of the police department back on the ballot.

Driving the news: In an eleventh hour ruling, the Minnesota Supreme Court overruled a Hennepin County judge's decision to strike the police charter amendment from the ballot over concerns that the language was too vague.

Why it matters: Question 2, which proposes replacing the Minneapolis Police Department with a new public safety agency that could include officers "if necessary," could fundamentally change public safety in Minneapolis by removing the minimum officer requirement and giving the City Council more say in police policies.

  • Supporters had argued that the judge's intervention subverted the will of the 20,000-plus voters who signed a petition to get the measure on the ballot.

What they're saying: Both supporters and critics of the proposal applauded the court's ruling.

  • "Voters can rejoice that their voice, their civic engagement, and their votes matter," a statement from the "yes" campaign read.
  • Mayor Jacob Frey, who opposes the measure, said the court made "the right call," saying residents "deserve the opportunity to weigh in this fall and bring this debate to a close so we can move forward with clarity for our residents' safety."

Between the lines: The fight over the measure is expected to attract national attention and major spending on both sides — opponents are launching their first TV ad.

  • That battle could impact turnout and the outcome of other local contests, including the mayor's race and competitive City Council match-ups.
  • Questions on city governance and rent control, as well as the Park Board and Board of Estimate and Taxation races, are also on the ballot.

Zoom out: It's not just Minneapolis. Early voting begins in dozens of municipalities and school districts across the state today.

  • Voters in St. Paul pick a mayor, school board members and face a rent control question of their own.
  • Contests elsewhere cover city government, school boards, tax levies and other local ballot questions.

Be smart: Absentee ballots can be cast in person, often at an early vote center or local election office, or by mail. Click the links for early voting sites across Hennepin and Ramsey counties.

Some Black leaders eye talks with police organizations

San Diego Police officer Ben Kelso, 53, talks with resident O.J. Phillips. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images

A Black Baptist minister is pushing for Black communities to engage directly with police organizations on criminal justice reform — a counter to progressive groups urging radical changes.

Why it matters: Homicide rates are soaring across the country and some civil rights advocates fear they'll lose momentum on fighting systemic racism if they don't include police in reform efforts.