Minneapolis residents sue city council for lack of police, blame 'defund police' movement

The city council in June voted to completely defund the police department

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Eight Minneapolis residents are suing the city council over a lack of police presence amid spikes in violent crime in the city, according to local news reports. 

The residents are blaming the council's calls to defund the police after George Floyd's May 25 death and argue that the city has not said how many officers are currently on the ground to meet a minimum requirement for protecting residents, according to WCCO.

"We are here, together in unison, to say enough is enough," community activist Cathy Spann said during a Monday press conference. "I am here today to say it is about all of us coming together to make a difference to stop the gun violence that is in our city -- downtown, south, north. We are stopping it. We are no longer asking for a plan. We are the plan."

The Minneapolis City Council members in June voted to completely dismantle the city's police department and replace it with a community safety program.

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The council has since changed its stance amid a surge in violent crime and carjackings in Minneapolis. Mayor Jacob Frey's 2021 budget plan released on Sept. 22 includes a $14 million budget cut to the police department from $193 million in adopted funds in 2020 to nearly $179 million in 2021 amid a surge in retirements and a hiring freeze.

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“We have made the emotional appeal,” former City Council member Don Samuels said during the conference. “We have demonstrated the statistical uptick [in violence], and now, this is the legal action we are exercising because it seems as if the City Council cannot hear us and doesn’t feel what we feel.”

The city told Fox9 that it is meeting the federal requirements for the number of sworn officers representing a population and asked the judge involved in the case to dismiss it.

"We simply want to have enough police on the streets to keep Minneapolis safe," Attorney James Dickey, who is representing the plaintiffs in the case, told Fox9. 

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The MPD's digital "Data Dashboard" shows a surge in violent crime in the city between June and July. For the week beginning June 16, for example, the city recorded 171 violent crimes compared to 111 the week prior and 90 during the same time in 2019. That number went up to 172 violent crimes during the week beginning July 21. Violent crime numbers have remained relatively high through September and October.