On Tuesday, a vote will be taken in Minneapolis on whether the city's police department should be overhauled and turned into a department of public safety.
If the measure is approved, it would entail a major restructuring of the Minneapolis police force.
According to Reuters, "Supporters insist police would remain on their jobs, though perhaps in smaller numbers. They say the change would mean approaching safety in a holistic manner, including addressing the root causes of crime before it takes place."
"If a mental health worker or a social worker had been with the police the day my nephew died right here, he might very well still be alive today. I don't want to abolish the police, but we need to do something different," said Angela Harrelson, the aunt of George Floyd, who famously died in police custody on May 25 2020. Floyds death is considered to be the catalyst for the current referendum.
The measure would entail making the department larger, but, as mentioned above, probably with a net loss of actual police officers. Instead, it would be comprised of professionals in the mental health area, as well as experts in such issues as addiction, and trained negotiators.
The Reverend JaNae Bates, an activist who supports the measures, commented, "What police have been doing for decades does not work. We want the city to have the nimbleness to match its safety needs with the resources available."
Another big change would be that the new public safety department would be beholden to the city's 13 council members as well as the mayor, who staunchly opposes the proposed measures, as does the current Minneapolis chief of police.
Teto Wilson, a black business owner in a rough area of the city, disagreed, saying, "This entire thing is a white, progressive movement, man. They're trying to turn us into some damn big experiment."
Anna Gerdeen, a white woman who identifies as progressive, will nonetheless also vote against the measure, according to her own words. Gerdeen is concerned about the skyrocketing crime rate in Minneapolis:
"My neighbor's house got hit with bullets a couple months ago. I can't let my son play outside in the yard anymore. As a mother, I just can't risk any more chaos."