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Minneapolis suburb approves changes to police after Daunte Wright’s death

The suburb of Minneapolis, where police recently killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, has approved a package of proposals to start making changes to public safety and violence prevention in the city.

Brooklyn Center City Council on Saturday voted 4-1 to pass a resolution titled Daunte Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler Community Safety & Violence Prevention Act. Mayor Mike Elliott introduced the resolution last week, naming it after two men who died brutally at the hands of police – one of whom was killed last month.

“It will transform public safety in our city, honoring two young men who have been robbed of their future,” Elliott tweeted. “This is only the first step in a long road ahead – but it is work that we, as a city, are prepared to do with our community. There will be a lot of questions to answer, a lot of learning and a lot of opportunities for the community to be at the center of this change. “

Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott speaks during a press conference at a memorial for Daunte Wright on April 20, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

The resolution does not make immediate sweeping changes, but rather gives the city a roadmap to overhaul its police system. He created a watchdog office that would oversee city police, firefighters and two new city departments – traffic law enforcement and community response.

The traffic enforcement department will be made up of unarmed civilians responsible for traffic violations, while the community response department will be made up of health, social work and health professionals. trained for incidents where a resident suffers from a health, mental health or behavioral problem. or social need.

By adopting the package of proposals, the city council also pledged to create a committee made up mainly of residents who have already been arrested, detained or imprisoned. The committee would review the city’s safety data and make recommendations on how to modify or initiate programs to improve community safety and prevent violence. This will allow such a committee to review penal codes and recommend the decriminalization or complete repeal of certain offenses, as well as have a say in the police response to the protests and the police union contract. with the city.

The resolution also limits the instances in which police can arrest people and demands more de-escalation tactics before using lethal force. Offices will be required to issue citations by mail for traffic violations, non-criminal offenses and non-criminal warrants.

“It’s about time,” said board member Marquita Butler, who, along with Elliott and her colleagues April Graves and Dan Ryan, voted to pass the resolution, according to the Star Tribune.

“We’ve been talking about these reforms for quite some time, specifically since last June, after the death of George Floyd,” said Butler. “And we didn’t have as much urgency on this as we probably should have.”

Then-Brooklyn Central Officer Kim Potter shot Wright on April 11 after being arrested for a traffic violation. Body camera footage shows Potter drawing his service weapon while repeatedly shouting “Taser!” before fatally shooting Wright. Potter, the police chief and the town manager have all left their posts since. Potter is charged with second degree manslaughter, and his murder of Wright has reignited protests against police brutality and backlash against low-level traffic stops that disproportionately impact black drivers and others. colored.

In 2019, Brooklyn Center police shot and killed Kobe Dimock-Heisler, who suffered from mental illness and was autistic. The 21-year-old grandfather called the police for his sanity after fearing Dimock-Heisler could injure himself while grabbing a knife, but then tried to quash the call after saying the situation was resolved, according to KARE-11.

Police arrived anyway, and with their body cameras turned off as they interrogated – and presumably agitated – Dimock-Heisler, footage shows them trying to shock the crying young man and then shoot him. on it several times when he runs to his grandmother. Police were not charged in the incident.

Dozens of people reportedly spoke at the council meeting, including the families of the young men who were killed. Daunte Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, said she believed her son would still be alive if the resolution passed had existed earlier, according to the Associated Press.

Police groups and unions have raised concerns about the resolution, saying it would endanger public safety. But the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union said that the resolution is a move towards alternatives to traditional policing that has too often harmed people of color.

“I am so proud that the Brooklyn Center has overhauled its public safety system”, Rep Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) Tweeted. “This gives [a] roadmap to other cities across the country on the steps needed to create a fairer system. “


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