Historic Moment! Now What?

crowd of protesters in Minneapolis

Laurie and Debbie say:

Two weeks ago, the most optimistic police abolitionists in the country would probably have said they didn’t see a path toward their goal any time soon, and even more so du ring the COVID-19 quarantine.

Yesterday, less than two weeks after George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis policeman while three others stood and watched the gruesome death, a veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council has voted to defund the police in that city. Before the vote, the University of MInnesota, the Minneapolis public schools, and the Minneapolis parks had all cancelled their contracts with the police department. Jay Willis writes about this unprecedented for The Appeal:

“We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department,” tweeted Council Member Jeremiah Ellison on June 4, pledging to “dramatically rethink” the city’s approach to emergency response. In a TIME op-ed published the next day, Council Member Steve Fletcher cited the MPD’s lengthy track record of misconduct and “decades-long history of violence and discrimination”—all of which are subjects of an ongoing Minnesota Department of Human Rights investigation—as compelling justifications for the department’s disbandment. “We can resolve confusion over a $20 grocery transaction without drawing a weapon or pulling out handcuffs,” Fletcher wrote..

Nothing is over. No one is safe from police violence, which we all know is vastly more dangerous to black and brown people. In Debbie’s home city of Oakland, the California Highway Patrol murdered Eric Salgado last night — not at a protest but during a traffic stop. Somewhere, some police officer may right now be shooting an unarmed woman in her bed in an apartment they weren’t supposed to raid, as they did to Breonna Taylor in Louisville in March.

The protests are growing, and the responses of elected officials are growing. We can’t guarantee substantive change will arise from this — but we all know that substantive change wasn’t even on the horizon until the protests began, and sustained.