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Commission blocks Minneapolis plan to remake police from November ballot

Liz Navratil and Miguel Otárola, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in News & Features

MINNEAPOLIS -- Voters won't get to decide the fate of the city's police department this year.

In a 10-5 vote, the Minneapolis Charter Commission decided Wednesday to block a controversial policing proposal from the November ballot, by invoking their right to take more time to review it.

"We have an obligation to make sure that what is going on the ballot gives the voters an informed choice, that they can make a decision in a thoughtful way," said Charter Commissioner Andrew Kozak, adding that he didn't think the proposal accomplished that.

It could still land on the ballot next year.

In recent weeks, the group, all volunteers appointed by a judge, found themselves the focus of intense pressure from people lobbying on all sides of the fight over whether to end the Minneapolis Police Department following George Floyd's death.

In passionate public hearings and a deluge of written comments, some urged the Charter Commissioners to wield their powers of review to prevent what they believe is a dangerously vague proposal from heading to voters.

 

Others said they urgently needed greater freedom to replace a department that disproportionately uses force on people of color, and particularly Black residents. They urged the commissioners not to block the proposal from this year's ballot.

The issue divided the commissioners, who publicly debated the purpose of their organization and what role it's supposed to play in the democratic process.

The city attorney's office, in a legal analysis prepared to help them sort through those tough questions, assured the commissioners that state law gave them the authority to delve deep into the substance of policing issues.

But some commissioners who voted against the delay said they thought it was important to issue a recommendation instead.

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