Since George Floyd was murdered on the streets of South Minneapolis on May 25th, 2021 the Minneapolis Police Department has been cast as the great villain in the story of racial injustice. The casting, directing and drumbeat against this service provider has been loud and persistent over the past eighteen months.
Democracy allows those who do not wish to be activists, and stand on street corners shouting their opinions, to express their will in the private ballot box. Thanks to the electoral process we can now see how the breakdown of broadly held opinions.
Question 2, regarding the defunding of the Minneapolis Police Department, appeared on the Minneapolis ballot as follows:
Department of Public Safety
Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to remove the Police Department and replace it with a Department of Public Safety that employs a comprehensive public health approach to the delivery of functions by the Department of Public Safety, with those specific functions to be determined by the Mayor and City Council by ordinance; which will not be subject to exclusive mayoral power over its establishment, maintenance, and command; and which could include licensed peace officers (police officers), if necessary, to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety, with the general nature of the amendments being briefly indicated in the explanatory note below, which is made a part of this ballot?
It is not only interesting that the question was firmly rejected by Minneapolis voters in a 56% to 44% margin, but the breakdown of where it was rejected is worth noting. The heat map below shows how the question fared across neighborhoods. In very general terms the southern green portions is where most of the protests and burning of buildings occurred in the summer of 2020. The forest green knot in the mid-right range is the location of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus.
The quickest demographic map I was able to ferret out (from mncompass.org which is an excellent resource!) is this one, which also shows St. Paul. But it will do the trick. I want to point out that the top left hand section of the map is an area of Minneapolis strongly favored by minority residents. If you cross reference this nook with the map above you will see that these folks strongly opposed question 2. In other words they support the MPD.
It’s good to remember that the loudest voices can, and seem to often, highjack the voice of those who either aren’t ready or aren’t able to speak for themselves. This was true with the early feminist who chose to speak for all women. This has been true in the last eighteen months for those claiming to speak for the black community.
But the truth is fast friends with democracy, and eventually will find a way of expressing itself.