The council of the US city of Minneapolis voted late Sunday to dismantle and rebuild the police department, after the death in custody of George Floyd sparked nationwide protests about racism in law enforcement, pushing the issue onto the national political agenda.
Floyd was killed on May 25 when white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on the unarmed black man’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and is to appear in court Monday.
We committed to dismantling policing as we know it in the city of Minneapolis and to rebuild with our community a new model of public safety that actually keeps our community safe,” Council President Lisa Bender told CNN.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, however, is against getting rid of the department, and the head of the city’s powerful police union, Bob Kroll, appeared on stage last year with President Donald Trump.
The vote by a majority of councilors came a day after Frey was booed at and asked to leave a “Defund the Police” rally. He later told AFP he supported “massive structural reform to revise this structurally racist system” but not “abolishing the entire police department.”
Bystander video of the incident – which captured Floyd calling for his mother and saying he couldn’t breathe – has sparked two weeks of mostly peaceful demonstrations across the country.
On Sunday, protesters in cities including Washington, New York and Winter Park, Florida, began focusing their outrage over the death of the unarmed Floyd into demands for police reform and social justice.
Mitt Romney, a Republican senator from Utah, joined a group of Christian protesters marching towards the White House. He tweeted photos of himself in the procession, along with the simple caption, “Black Lives Matter.”
Although Romney has been a rare Republican voice of opposition to Trump, he was joined last week by Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who said criticism of Trump was overdue.
Trump’s tough approach to putting down protests continued to draw exceptional rebukes from top retired military officers, a group normally loath to criticize a civilian leader.
Former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Colin Powell joined them Sunday, saying Trump had “drifted away” from the Constitution. Powell, a Republican moderate, said Trump had weakened America’s position around the world and that in November’s presidential election he would support Democrat Joe Biden.