The Minneapolis Charter Commission made the decision on Wednesday to take additional time to review a City Council amendment that would dismantle the police department, removing the possibility of voters being able to vote on the issue in November.
Members of the commission said they were concerned that the process to alter the city charter was being rushed following George Floyd’s deadly encounter with police. Although several commissioners were in favor of changing the charter, they took issue with the amendment presented to them.
A number said it would face legal barriers. Others argued the amendment was drafted without input from key community leaders who opposed it and that it would give too much power to the City Council.
“It’s appropriate to explore transformational changes in the department, but it needs to be done thoughtfully,” said Commissioner Peter Ginder, who voted for taking more time. “That hasn’t been done here.”
The five city council members who put together the proposed charter amendment put out a statement criticizing the decision to review the amendment, but said they will continue working toward a transformation of the city’s public-safety system. The council members announced they plan to get an amendment before voters in November 2021.
In a lengthy Twitter thread, councilman Jeremiah Ellison, the son of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, argued that “The people should’ve been allowed to vote on the future of Public Safety in Minneapolis.”
“It is not our legacy to use bureaucratic processes to circumvent the people in an attempt to ‘protect’ voters from themselves,” Ellison added. “That is not democracy. In a democracy, the people decide. But I guess today the Charter Commission decided otherwise.”
If passed, the amendment would have replaced the Minneapolis Police Department with a “Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention” that proponents say would take a more “holistic” approach, though the language does not specify what is meant by that.
While the police department would no longer exist, the proposal did provide for armed officers through a division of licensed “peace officers” who would answer to the new department’s director.
“The council says ‘Trust us. We’ll figure it out after this is approved. Trust us.’ Well I don’t, and we shouldn’t,” said Barry Clegg, chairman of the Charter Commission. “Charter change is too important.”
The 15-member charter commission is made up of volunteers appointed by a judge. The body voted 10-5 to take an additional 90 days to review the proposed amendment. The majority of the commissioners who voted against taking more time indicated that they were in favor of rejecting the amendment.
But even if it was rejected, it would likely have gone to voters because the City Council was required by law only to consult the commission and is not bound by their action. The lack of a conclusive decision, however, means the amendment won’t be able to appear on the ballot this November, though it could be included on the 2021 ballot.
“There is no democracy denied here. There is no denial of democratic rights. It’s a question of when, not if,” Commissioner Gregory Abbott said. “We can fix this. We can get police reform. We just need to find a different avenue to do it in.”
Similar action from the Charter Commission effectively killed a proposed charter change in 2018 that would have put greater control over law enforcement into the hands of the City Council.
A local left-wing community activist, Mel Reeves, blasted the decision by the commission.
“We talk about living in a democracy, but if you really want to be democratic, sometimes it’s damn near impossible. If people really want to do something, there are all kinds of mechanisms to keep them from doing it,” Reeves said.
What many of those involved, such as Reeves and Ellison, fail to understand is that America’s system of government is not and never was intended to be a democracy.
In The Federalist, No. 10, James Madison said that “democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”
Madison went on to write that “A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking.”
For Madison and the other Founders, a republic, which is governed by the rule of law (not unbridled mob rule disguised as majority rule), is superior to democracy precisely because it creates a layer of detached representatives who makes decisions with a broader perspective, not merely in the heat of the moment — including bad decisions such as abolishing your city’s police department.
Luis Miguel is a marketer and writer whose journalistic endeavors shed light on the Deep State, the immigration crisis, and the enemies of freedom. Follow his exploits on Facebook, Twitter, Bitchute, and at luisantoniomiguel.com.