Ross: Minneapolis parallels Seattle in failure to win police reform at the ballot box

Nov 9, 2021, 10:27 AM | Updated: 12:52 pm
police reform...
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Taken from Monday’s edition of Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien.

In our most recent Seattle election, the general takeaway was that voters rejected this idea of defunding the police. One of the city council candidates, Nikkita Oliver, had that as part of their platform and did not win.

I was curious to go to Minneapolis where this most recent nationwide push to reform police began because that, of course, was where George Floyd was murdered. I noticed that in the election results there, the same thing seemed to happen.

There was a ballot measure which called for replacing the police department with a Department of Public Safety. What happened in Minneapolis where this all began? Why would voters reject fundamental reforms in the police department?

“The reality is that this ballot measure was not defeated because the people of Minneapolis rejected the vision for expanding public safety in the city,” JaNae Bates, director of communications for Yes 4 Minneapolis, told KIRO Radio.

“It was actually defeated because of a series of misinformation: A very well-funded and powerful disinformation campaign that was used,” Bates said.

“But, quite frankly, one that embraced our vision, at least on the surface. What we saw in our opposition is that they essentially repeated everything that we said: that we need a Department of Public Safety in the City of Minneapolis, that we need a holistic public health approach to public safety, that we need qualified professionals like mental health providers and substance abuse specialists and homeless outreach coordinators,” Bates continued.

“Unfortunately, what many of the voters of Minneapolis believed in our opposition is that they could have all of these things without structural changes to the current department.”

“I certainly want to caution people around the particular story that’s being told about this: That a slogan or this idea of defunding the police was the thing that killed this, when the reality is, when you have real conversations with people about what it means to invest in communities for neighborhoods across the city, and most certainly neighborhoods that are poor neighborhoods that are predominantly Black, to be able to have the resources that they need to be safe and knowing that those resources are far more than just police officers.”

“People are overwhelmingly in favor of that,” Bates said.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: Minneapolis parallels Seattle in failure to win police reform at the ballot box