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Majority of Minneapolis City Council commits to dismantling city's police department

Councilwoman Alondra Cano tweeted that the department isn't "reformable."
Image: Demonstrators call to defund the Minneapolis Police Department on June 6, 2020.
Demonstrators call to defund the Minneapolis Police Department on June 6, 2020.Stephen Maturen / Getty Images

A majority of the Minneapolis City Council agreed Sunday to dismantle the city's police department after the in-custody killing of George Floyd, a council member said.

In an interview with NBC News, Councilman Jeremiah Ellison said the council would work to disband the department in its "current iteration."

"The plan has to start somewhere," he said. "We are not going to hit the eject button without a plan, so today was the announcement of the formulation of that plan."

Speaking earlier during a community meeting, council President Lisa Bender called the city's relationship with the department "toxic" and vowed to "re-create systems of public safety that actually keep us safe."

"Our efforts at incremental reform have failed — period," she said. "Our commitment is to do what's necessary to keep every single member of our community safe and to tell the truth that Minneapolis police are not doing that."

Ellison said eight or nine of the council members had agreed to the move.

What exactly the next steps are is unclear. Bender also told CNN "the idea of having no police department is certainly not in the short term."

Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement that he would work "relentlessly" with Police Chief Medaria Arradondo toward "deep, structural reform" and to address "systemic racism in police culture."

"We're ready to dig in and enact more community-led public safety strategies on behalf of our city," he said. "But I do not support abolishing the Minneapolis Police Department."

A police spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Floyd died two weeks ago when a police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. The killing, which was captured on video by a bystander, sparked massive protests across the United States.

Full coverage of George Floyd's death and protests around the country

Chauvin was fired and has been charged with second-degree murder and other crimes in Floyd's death. Three other officers were also fired, and they have been charged with aiding and abetting.

Last week, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said the state was launching a civil rights investigation into the police department aimed at rooting out "systemic racism that is generations deep."

Investigators will review policies and procedures from the last decade to determine whether the department's practices are systematically discriminatory toward people of color.

The council welcomed the announcement and said the department should be held accountable "for any and all abuses of power."