Community activists ask Minneapolis Foundation to step aside in building new policing policy

A number of community groups are calling for the Minneapolis Foundation and its president, R.T. Rybak to step aside in the process of building a new policing policy in the city.

Rybak is a former Minneapolis mayor, and the Minneapolis Foundation has agreed to provide research and data support to three task forces the city has set up on policing.

But, many activists believe Rybak has no credibility on the issue of police reform.

“Under his watch, he had 38 people lose their lives to Minneapolis police and not a single one had a single negative outcome for doing so,” said Michelle Gross, President of Communities United Against Police Brutality.  

Mayor Frey’s office quickly responded saying, “the Minneapolis Foundation has the resources and expertise to play important roles in taking on the serious public safety work ahead.”

His office went on to say, “their leadership team has agreed to lend support for legal and public policy research that will help inform considerations by each of the city’s task forces – but the deliberations and decision-making will remain squarely in the hands of community and local officials.”

Meanwhile, community activists are asking, “why hasn’t the community been listened to before?”

“Minnesotans are tired of the tepid solutions, the Johnny-come-lately approach, in which ‘oh, now that we’ve burned down half the city now all of sudden we think it’s important to include community in these solutions,’” said Noah McCord, Executive Director of the Disability Justice Network.  

The Minneapolis Foundation responded saying it “stands with this community’s overwhelming calls for dramatic police reform, now.”

That’s why it has identified two potential opportunities for action: 

  • “potential investments in research-based technology to track officer performance and promote early intervention when problematic behavior is detected.”
  • “leveraging our national network of experts on criminal justice reform, connecting these experts with local and civic and community leaders, including the city of Minneapolis.”

But many of the activists don’t believe the experts have the answers.

“We want to see this process being owned by the community, not again by some elites with no expertise,” Gross said.