Early Thursday, the Minneapolis City Council approved a budget shifting close to $8 million from policing to social service programs including mental health response and violence prevention, CBS News reports. This represents a decrease of about 4.4%.
Despite the slight reduction in police funding, the council set aside $11.4 million in a reserve fund that includes $6.4 million for hiring new police recruits. Up to $5 million of the fund can be used to offset the cuts made to police overtime. The overtime fund would require prior approval by the city council.
The council’s move follows promises this summer made in response to the uprising after the killing of George Floyd. Defunding police became a common refrain across the country as Floyd’s killing inspired renewed attention to policing and police killings.
An earlier version of the “Safety for All” plan called for a reduction of officers from 888 to 750. The cap reduction took into consideration positions that are currently unstaffed. Council members voted 7-6 to rescind the cap reduction after Mayor Jacob Frey threatened to veto the budget.
The vote followed hours of testimony across three hearings from city residents, organizers, and statewide advocates. Grappling with the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and rising crime rates, some organizers challenged the council to make decisions based on a Minneapolis that provides for everyone.
Reclaim the Block released a statement via Facebook in response to the budget’s passage highlighting testimony from organizers with Violence Free Minnesota and others who support community members “in the absence of city funded programs for housing, mental health services, and health care.” Founded in 2018, Reclaim the Block organizes with both the community and city council to redirect funds from the police department to other areas of the city budget.
“The city rose up this summer after MPD murdered George Floyd, and in this budget process, we are taking the very beginning steps to move towards a city that takes care of its people instead of violently policing them,” said Oluchi Omeoga of Black Visions in a statement released by Reclaim the Block. “So many of us across the city are working hard every day to help our communities stay safe and healthy.”
Omeoga called on Frey to sign the budget.