Minneapolis, MN – A coalition of police accountability and civil rights organizations held a press conference to denounce plans by Mayor Jacob Frey to turn over police accountability efforts to the Minneapolis Foundation and an unnamed group of advisors. This comes on the heels of nine city council members declaring they will disband the Minneapolis Police Department.
The Minneapolis Foundation is headed by former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak. During his tenure as mayor, 38 people lost their lives at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, including Abu Kassim Jeilani, Fong Lee and Terrance Franklin. Rybak failed to take action to address these killings or the many complaints of police brutality, despite demands from the community. His administration shut down the Civilian Review Authority, first by defunding it then by replacing it with the utterly ineffective Office of Police Conduct Review. He oversaw the MPD’s involvement in the corrupt Metro Gang Strike Force. He condoned rank brutality against protesters and concertgoers in downtown Minneapolis during the Republican National Convention.
Michelle Gross, of Communities United Against Police Brutality, described her experience as chair of a civilian review redesign work group, which spent 11 months developing recommendations to strengthen the civilian review process in the first years of Rybak’s tenure as mayor. He threw out those recommendations and, according to Gross, “under his tenure, he destroyed civilian oversight of police.”
Nekima Levy Armstrong of Racial Justice Network slammed Rybak, who now claims to speak as an expert on police reform. “He had an opportunity when he was mayor of Minneapolis to show any expertise he might have had, and he failed the residents of the city of Minneapolis, and specifically the Black community and other communities of color who suffered many losses at the hands of a violent and out of control police force under his watch… Many of those officers who killed people under RT Rybak’s watch are still on the force to this today.”
Jess Sundin of Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar said, “TCC4J is working not only for community review boards, but to expand community oversight to community control of policing in Minneapolis. We are working for an all-civilian police accountability council (CPAC). Not some civilian members, but all civilians. We want that council to not only review after problems happen, after violence has occurred. We want that organization to be responsible for setting police policy, negotiating contracts, for determining budgets. If we’re going to defund the police, if we’re going to dismantle or disband MPD, it needs to be a process that’s led, not by the Minneapolis Foundation and the elite of this city, but led by community members that are most impacted. And that’s something that CPAC can deliver us.”
Other speakers included Jaylani Hussein of CAIR-MN, Noah McCourt of Disability Justice Network, and Pete Gamades, of Minneapolis for a Better Police Contract.
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