American News

Minneapolis residents sue city over lack of police

Cathy Spann says she is tired of hearing gunshots every night, and she isn't the only one. So far, eight other citizens have filed similar lawsuits.

Leonardo Briceno Virginia, US
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Cathy Spann, a resident of Minneapolis, MN, is initiating a lawsuit against the city, contending that undue violence and a lack of public safety have been exacerbated by low numbers of police officers patrolling the streets.

According to local news, Spann is arguing that the police force has fallen below the minimum level of protection required by the city's charter which has resulted in the endangerment of its residents.

"Enough is really enough," Spann said. "We want law and order. We want reform." Spann ran for City Council in Minneapolis to represent Ward 5 in 2017, but she did not win that race.

Cathy Spann says she is tired of hearing gunshots every night, and she isn't the only one. So far, eight other citizens have filed similar lawsuits. Spann is the director of the Jordan Area Community Council, and has been advocating for police since July. This was when the "defund the police" movement under BLM was in full swing.

"Whether you agree or disagree with that, that’s OK," Spann said at the time. "But here is the issue I have: There is no plan. We know we need change. But you not going to leave me unprotected in the streets, in the bus, in my house."

Another black resident of the neighbourhood, Jean Loyd, agreed with Spann, saying "How are you going to dismantle something if you don’t have a plan of action? And I think that’s what happens many times — our elected officials are reactionary instead of proactive."

The attorney representing Spann's case, James Dickey, explained that the Minneapolis city charter lays out a need for a minimum of 743 officers to protect the residents of the city. This is based on the city charter’s requirement that the city "fund a police force of at least 0.0017 employees per resident."

Because of outcry and violence against police officers since the death of George Floyd, police officers from all over the city have left the force and taken leave, driving the number of active police below that threshold, according to Dickey.

Reporting from the Star Tribune contends that there are currently 856 officers on the force with an additional 147 civilian employees. But it does not specify how many of those officers are currently on medical leave, which would include many officers who have reported that they are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Numbers from mid-July showed that there were more than 100 officers on leave, which certainly brought the number of officers near the city charter’s threshold.

Regardless of how many officers may or may not be in the force at this present time, statistics from Minneapolis clearly demonstrate that crime has only gone up as the police force has shrunk.

In the month of September alone, there have been 521 counts of violent crime, 362 counts of burglary, 1,212 counts of larceny, and 1,897 counts of property crimes according to data from the Minneapolis Police Department.

In April, before George Floyd's death, total violent crimes in Minneapolis totaled only 291 counts—a 55 percent lower rate than in September. Similar lower rates are reflected in other crime statistics.

"It doesn't have to be this way. In fact, it would not be this way if the City Council and the Mayor did their jobs," Dickey said.

Arguments on behalf of the city and the eight residents have been heard. With all the testimony and evidence having been presented, the judge who presided over Spann's case will deliver a verdict within a 90-day period.

Minneapolis city council had voted to defund the police in that city, in the wake of the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25, and the ensuing protests and violence riots. It was after that vote, and city councilperson's public disavowal of the police force, that crime began to skyrocket in that city, and the city council complained that there weren't enough police to stop the violent carjackings, robberies, and shootings.

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