Statement from ACLU-MN on the 2021 Minneapolis Budget
The ACLU of Minnesota strongly urges the Minneapolis City Council to pass a budget that demonstrates a broad reinvestment in community safety and a divestment from traditional policing. The proposal to shift $7.9 million from the mayor’s $179 million Police Department budget, to fund a 24/7 mental health response unit, expand violence prevention programs and increase civilian oversight of police behavior is a good step.
The murder of George Floyd by police cast a harsh, painful spotlight on the need to aggressively reform policing in Minneapolis. Subsequent protests and unrest reflected the frustration of Black and Brown communities that have been violently over-policed and dangerously under-resourced for decades, and it’s time to change these failed policies.
Public safety is about more than policing and law enforcement, and the ACLU-MN joins other community organizations in calling for a budget that shifts meaningful funding levels away from traditional policing and toward resources and services that are proven to support communities and reduce crime. These include increasing the budget of the underfunded Office of Violence Prevention; increasing the capacity of mental health and substance abuse workers to respond to mental health and substance use emergencies; shifting reports of property damage, theft, and other non-violent crimes to 311; transferring traffic and parking enforcement to other city staff; and reinvesting in other long neglected resources like housing and education.
Right now, police are asked to do too much – everything from solving homicides to writing traffic tickets, and responding to drug overdoses and mental health crises outside their training and expertise. Asking officers to get involved in this wide range of responses decreases the time police spend on the most serious offenses, while increasing the likelihood of police escalation and violence. It’s time that we invest in safer, more humane and more effective responses to homelessness, mental health crises, traffic violations and petty crime in Minneapolis. The ACLU of Minnesota urges the city council to seize this opportunity to implement the real community safety that we need and demand.