Updated Nov 2, 2021 - Politics

Minneapolis police reform movement fails on the ballot

george floyd sign

Tuesday's vote marked the first municipal election in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd's murder. Photo: Emilie Richardson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Minneapolis voters on Tuesday rejected a ballot measure to overhaul the city's police department by replacing it with a new agency.

Why it matters: The result — in the city where George Floyd was murdered by a police officer a year and a half ago — is a significant blow to the police reform movement's momentum in Minneapolis and beyond.

State of play: Returns Tuesday night showed Question 2 failing by a double-digit margin, 56% to 43%.

Details: The measure called for replacing MPD with a new Department of Public Safety that "employs a comprehensive public health approach" and could include traditional police, "if necessary." It also would've removed a mandatory minimum for sworn peace officers from the city's charter.

  • The new department would have been overseen by the mayor and 13-member City Council, versus solely the mayor.

Context: Supporters had pitched the proposed charter amendment as a chance to expand public safety, arguing it would allow city leaders to design a department in which mental health and social work professionals worked alongside traditional police.

  • But questions about what the future department would actually look like — and concerns over an increase in crime locally — left many voters wary of the plan.

Between the lines: The measure divided local politicians and Democrats in Minnesota and across the country, with some raising concerns about how the Minneapolis debate could impact the 2022 midterm elections.

What they're saying: Groups on both sides of the police campaign pledged Tuesday to keep working to reform MPD.

  • "We've always known our work is bigger than one election," a statement from TakeAction Minnesota, which backed Question 2, read. "Social change is a marathon, not a sprint."
  • Leili Fatehi, campaign manager for the lead opposition committee All of Mpls, said voters "made clear that they want a planful approach to transforming policing and public safety," and called on city leaders to "roll up their sleeves and carry out this public mandate in good faith and without delay."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with contextual details about the proposed charter amendment and comment from TakeAction Minnesota and All of Mpls campaign leaders.


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