Minneapolis City Council President Defends Plan to Dismantle Police

Says safety concerns come 'from a place of privilege'

June 8, 2020

Minneapolis City Council president Lisa Bender on Monday defended the council's plan to phase out the police department by saying she can imagine a future without police, characterizing concerns over safety as "privilege."

"A lot of us were asked if we could imagine a future without police back in 2017 when we were running for office. And I answered yes to that question," Bender said on CNN's New Day.

Bender said she understood concerns about the prospect of having no law enforcement to call for safety, but she argued such concerns should not make a difference.

"I know that that comes from a place of privilege," Bender said when asked who citizens should call if they are the victim of a crime. "For those of us for whom the system is working, I think we need to step back and imagine what it would feel like to already live in that reality where calling the police may mean more harm is done."

Polling shows an overwhelming majority of Americans still trust the police despite recent incidents of police brutality. Just over one-third of black respondents, however, said they trust the police.

Another Minneapolis city council member tweeted that he plans to dismantle the department and "when we’re done, we’re not simply gonna glue it back together."

One key opponent of the plan is Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey, who reiterated Sunday that he opposes dismantling the department.

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

The plan has the support of a veto-proof majority of the city council, setting the stage for a political showdown between those who want to get rid of the police department and those who want to reform it.