Dozens of liberal activist groups want to cut more than $80 million from the Minneapolis Police Department’s budget, nearly half the agency’s current $193 million budget.
A “People’s Budget” released this week calls for redirecting $84.3 million of the department’s budget to “life affirming institutions.”
“We believe in the possibility of a safer city and a police-free future,” says the proposal. “MPD has a track record of murder, abuse, sexual assault, and dishonesty. They receive billions of dollars and free reign of the city, yet so many people across the city are still not safe. We can’t afford to keep doubling down on the same approach and expecting different results. It’s time to try something new.”
The “People’s Budget” had been signed by more than 60 organizations as of Friday, including groups like TakeAction Minnesota, Black Visions, Jewish Community Action, a local labor union, and a handful of small businesses.
The budget proposal recommends using $11.99 million for mental health and substance abuse programs, $50.13 million for economic initiatives like affordable housing, $11.55 million for community outreach programs, and $10.7 million for cultural institutions and the arts.
“If we’re serious about breaking the cycle for good, we have to put real money into tried and true programs that prevent violence and respond effectively to violence when it happens,” the document states. “We also have to divest from one of the biggest perpetrators of violence in our city: the police.”
One line item in the proposal calls for $1.45 million in funding for the “sex worker community,” including $700,000 to “establish a worker-owned strip club co-op.”
Another item suggests $500,000 in funding to “permanently maintain George Floyd Square with the sculpture in the middle of the intersection, with gathering spaces on the Chicago side of Cup Foods.”
“We must have the vision to see past MPD’s threats and intimidation tactics while we build up the systems that keep us safe in Minneapolis. It won’t be easy; it will be a transition that takes years. But for this transformation to be meaningful, it must include a major transfer of resources into Black communities and other communities facing oppression — and away from the murderous MPD,” says the proposal.
The Minneapolis City Council is scheduled to adopt a final 2021 city budget during its Wednesday meeting next week. Mayor Jacob Frey’s budget proposal includes a $14 million decrease (7.4%) in police funding, but some council members would like to see the department’s budget reduced even more.