Calls for policing changes under scrutiny amid recent violence in Minneapolis

Minneapolis police respond to a shooting that injured 11 people in Uptown on June 21, 2020.

Two and a half weeks ago, nine members of the Minneapolis City Council stood up on a stage in Powderhorn Park and called for the disbanding of the Minneapolis Police Department. Now, those calls are under intense scrutiny as the city deals with an outbreak of violence.

“I think they were in the moment and once you’re in the moment it’s hard to backtrack out without looking bad,” said Lisa Clemons, an anti-violence activist and former police officer.

Clemons is calling on one of the loudest voices for disbanding police, Council President Lisa Bender, to step down.

“She needs to step down immediately,” said Clemons.

Clemons says while there needs to be police reform, the council spends too much time focusing on blue on Black crime rather than Black on Black crime.

“I give zero credibility to anything they’re saying right now,” said Clemons.

Meanwhile, Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins told FOX 9 the outbreak of gun violence proves the current model isn’t working.

“I think it’s all the more reason why we should be re-imagining public safety,” said Jenkins. “If we want to prevent people from getting shot, we need to be investing in crime prevention.”

While Jenkins stood on stage with other city council members June 7 and pledged support to a movement to disband the police department, she now says she supports keeping some officers.

In tweets this week, her colleague councilman Jeremiah Ellison said, “Using tragedy to ditch efforts at reimagining public safety is lazy, it maintains the status quo and I will not stand for it.”

Councilman Phillipe Cunningham responded to the violence saying, “I’m working with community members to take back our neighborhoods from the violence and organizing a meeting with the gangs causing it.”

Clemons is calling on one of the loudest voices for disbanding police, Council President Lisa Bender, to step down following the rash of shootings.

“She needs to step down immediately,” said Clemons. “She’s not coming out in the community and talking to any of us about what her plans are as the president, the president of the City Council,” said Clemons.

Fox 9 reached out to Lisa Bender for comment. She did not respond.