POLICY AND POLITICS
NEKIMA LEVY ARMSTRONG, 44
Both the mayor and the city council have done a poor job of managing the crisis that currently exists and the crisis in policing that existed before George Floyd was killed. They have all had ample opportunity to use their political power to help change the structural racism happening within the Minneapolis police department, to have a more rigorous system of discipline, and of accountability and transparency, and they haven’t done it. And so from my perspective, the city council was looking to take the heat off of itself by showing up in Powderhorn Park one day in June, and declaring that they were going to abolish the police, dismantle the police, but they hadn’t done any due diligence, any community engagement, they hadn’t even come to the Black community, which is at higher risk for negative encounters with police as well as community violence. They didn’t do any of that. So it was just very poor governance and poor timing—in the sense of trying to capture headlines to look like you’re going to abolish the police when you don’t even have the political authority to take that kind of action. And those of us who have been out here fighting, we knew then that Minneapolis City Council had not taken any steps to reform the police department. So we didn’t take what they were doing seriously as a solution, because they had missed so many intermediate steps, and so many intermediate decision points, and to try to just engage the public to see what do we want the future of public safety to look like? Not a single city council member has a background in policing or reform or any of that. And when we saw the city council president, Lisa Bender, go on CNN and try to defend her position, it was clear she was not well versed on any of these issues, and couldn’t answer basic questions from Chris Cuomo. And it was embarrassing, quite frankly, to witness that because none of it had to happen.
And then when you look at the description of what they are proposing, a couple things strike me: one, the fact that that new office will be headed