frey lied, amir died: connecting community and police violence

Last week, police officers shot and killed another Black man, 22-year-old Amir Locke, in the city that just two years ago was torched by the trauma of George Floyd’s murder, and just months ago failed to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety. Locke had been sleeping on his cousin’s couch, shot to death within nine seconds of police entering the apartment during a no-knock SWAT raid. The killing happened in the midst of a tragic week of loss–with several teenagers shot and killed by other teenagers. The horrific layering of all this death has prompted a new wave of trauma, rage, and demands to transform policing in Minneapolis. But it’s also started to build a bridge between conversations and movements to end police killings and community violence. Rather than treating the two as separate issues, activists and some city leaders are drawing deeply sociological connections about how structural racism produces both kinds of violence and what it will take to address these staggering losses.

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one year later: policing, violence, and public safety in minneapolis

Image Credit: Ben Hovland

Tomorrow marks one year since the murder of George Floyd at 38th and Chicago in South Minneapolis, sparking a rebellion that burned a police precinct and much of a nearby commercial strip. In the days that followed, a veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council declared their intention to “dismantle” the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). This declaration seemed to place the city at the forefront of a national conversation to reimagine public safety and redress racialized police violence. And yet, although the people of Minneapolis largely agree about the need for systematic changes in policing, residents, activists, and policymakers continue to disagree about the nature and scope of those transformations. These political struggles have complicated efforts to dismantle  the MPD.

As I wrote on scatterplot last summer, periods of upheaval rarely produce total abandonment of the status quo, but political leaders, activists, and community members can use such openings to shift the direction of policies, practices, and institutional and cultural arrangements. Those words ring even truer today. Nearly a year following the declaration, the MPD remains standing, but changed, as the city continues to struggle over how to create “safety for all” in a starkly unequal society. Fights over public safety are central to the upcoming election, where city residents will vote on a new charter amendment to replace the MPD with a Department of Public Safety and re-elect or vote out of office the council members who have fought for (or resisted) these changes and the Mayor who has rebuffed calls to dismantle the MPD.

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