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Fears of dismantling local police forces come from a “place of privilege,” Minneapolis City Council president Lisa Bender told CNN on Monday.
“What if in the middle of the night my home is broken into. Who do I call?” CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota asked Bender after the city council president laid out her vision for a post-police city.
“I hear that loud and clear from a lot of my neighbors, and I know — and myself, too, and I know that that comes from a place of privilege,” Bender responded. “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 instead.”
Bender and eight other City Council members, who together form a veto-proof majority on the twelve-seat body, have already signed a pledge to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department. Mayor Jacob Frey has backed reform but refused to defund the city’s police force entirely.
However, Bender appeared to temper a push to defund the MPD immediately, saying it would take “years” before police would not be necessary. She and other Council Members had come out in support of a “police-free future” in 2017.
“To me, [a police-free future] is a long way away, and it would take an enormous amount of investment in things that we know work to keep people safe,” Bender said. “I know the statement was bold, and I stand by that bold statement, but the work ahead of us will be long.”
Calls to defund and dismantle police departments have grown after the death of George Floyd, an African American man killed during his arrest by four Minneapolis police officers. The city saw widespread demonstrations and riots following Floyd’s death, with rioters looting and burning down buildings including the headquarters of the city’s 3rd precinct, where the four officers were stationed.