Activists react after final wording of ballot measure to replace Minneapolis PD is approved

On the ballot this November, Minneapolis voters will be asked whether they’d like to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new department of public safety.

But the exact wording of the question on the ballot had many divided over the weekend. The issue even went to court, with a judge recently ruling against including a note to explain the question to voters, saying that the proposed note read as a cautionary note.

Friday night in Minneapolis, city leaders clashed over the wording of the question that could decide the future of policing in the city.

"The question is clear enough for people to read and understand what they’re voting for," said Yes 4 Minneapolis campaign co-lead JaNae Bates.

"They passed language that was so vague as to be basically meaningless to any voter," All of Mpls campaign manager Leili Fatehi said.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey took a stance similar to Fatehi. Twice on Friday he vetoed the wording approved by the city council, saying it left out important details about what voters were voting for.

"Being as vague as it is, we’re concerned that voters won’t understand the consequences," Fatehi said.

"That happens in every issue when you’re looking at your ballot," Bates said. She helps lead the Yes 4 Minneapolis campaign behind a petition which got the question on the ballot. Bates argues voters can and should do their research before voting.

"The point of a ballot question is not to explain every piece of the policy," Bates told FOX 9. "The actual charter change does that."

"Of course voters will do their own research, but the city government owes at a bare minimum that when voters look at their ballot they understand what it is that they’re voting for," Fatehi said.

A vote for yes would be voting to remove the police chief, remove mandatory staffing minimums for police officers, and have the department report to the entire city council rather than just the mayor - something not necessarily clarified on the ballot.

"To cherry pick that information would be an affront of the people of Minneapolis," Bates said. "It would really just be more confusing."

"It’s not cherry picked, those are by definition the changes that the charter amendment makes," Fatehi said.

Ultimately, the council voted to override Mayor Frey’s veto, approving the wording of the question: "Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to strike and replace the Police Department with a Department of Public Safety which could include licensed peace officers {police officers) if necessary, with administrative authority to be consistent with other city departments to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety?"

"Why is it that these council members and the proponents of this charter amendment don’t want voters to see the most basic facts?" Fatehi said.

"The purpose of the ballot is not to explain every little bit of detail about policy," Bates said. "Because we know that when that happens and those who get to word it get to have the upper hand."