Minneapolis protesters told Mayor Jacob Frey (D) he was no longer welcome to demonstrate against the death of George Floyd — an African-American man who died in police custody in the city — after he refused to commit to defunding its police department.
Footage shared to social media shows a masked Frey, who is under fire from both Republicans and Democrats over his response to protests and violent unrest, telling a crowd of protesters that he believes the city’s police department must undergo “structural reforms” and that a “systemic, racist system needs to be revamped.”
Then, one speaker pressed Frey on whether he would defund the police, asking him: “We have a yes or no question for you. Yes or no, will you commit to defunding the Minneapolis Police Department?
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey showed up today at the protests. He was asked if he would commit to abolishing/defunding the police. Incredible to witness crowd hold him directly accountable. Man did a literal walk of shame. pic.twitter.com/v645mfIZHt
— Sana Saeed (@SanaSaeed) June 6, 2020
The speaker continued before Frey could respond: “We don’t want any more police, is that clear? We don’t want people with guns in our communities, shooting us down. Do you have an answer? It is a yes or a no.”
“If he says ‘no,’ guess what the fuck we are going to do next year,” the protester added, referring to the mayor being up for re-election next year.
Frey responded “I do not support abolishing the Minneapolis Police Department,” prompting the protester who asked him the question to shout “get the fuck outta here” at him.
Multiple protesters then began to boo Frey loudly and chant “go home Jacob, go home!”
Additional footage shows a downcast Frey then departing the protests amid more booes and chants of “shame!”
— CTUL (@CTUL_TC) June 6, 2020
On Thursday, Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender vowed the council will “dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a transformative new model of public safety.” Minneapolis City Council member Jeremiah Ellison, son of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, echoed Bender’s pledge.
“We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department. And when we’re done, we’re not simply gonna glue it back together. We are going to dramatically rethink how we approach public safety and emergency response. It’s really past due,” he tweeted.
The following day, Frey signed off on various changes to the police department after an injunction was filed by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which sought a ban on chokeholds and for officers to report unauthorized use of force.
This week, “Squad” members Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) joined calls to “defund the police” in the wake of Floyd’s death.
“The Minneapolis Police Department has proven themselves beyond reform,” Omar wrote on social media Friday. “It’s time to disband them and reimagine public safety in Minneapolis.”
Hours later, Ocasio-Cortez said in a congressional primary debate that she is “actively engaged in advocacy” for a “reduction of our NYPD budget and defunding a $6 billion NYPD budget that costs us books in the hands of our children and costs us very badly needed investment in NYCHA [New York City Housing Authority] and public housing.”
Last Thursday, demonstrators set fire to a police precinct building in the Minneapolis neighborhood where Floyd died Monday after he was restrained by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck.
Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a grocery store.
The 3rd precinct building had been evacuated by order of Frey, who said he was unwilling to endanger lives to protect the building.
“I understand the importance of a precinct,” he said. “[But] the symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life, of our officers, or the public. We could not risk serious injury to anyone and we will continue to patrol the third precinct entirely.”
By 4:30 a.m. last Friday, protesters and looters were still out on the streets in the neighborhood as several nearby commercial buildings burned unchecked.
As Breitbart News reported: “Minneapolis already suffers from high violent crime rates. In Minneapolis, every 8.15 residents per 1,000 is a violent crime victim. Compare that to the state of Minnesota overall, where only 2.2 residents per 1,000 become a violent crime victim.”
The UPI contributed to this report.