Frustrations mount from public during Minneapolis Police Conduct Oversight Commission meeting

The Minneapolis Police Conduct Oversight Commission met for the first time Tuesday night since George Floyd's death. 
The call that took place was a special meeting of the Police Conduct Oversight Commission, which is a volunteer group nominated by city council members and the mayor.

One of the main topics brought up by public commenters was the pledge by the majority of the Minneapolis City Council to dismantle the police department. Nine of 13 city council members announced Sunday their pledge to replace the current Minneapolis Police Department with a community based safety model. The council members did not present a plan, but said they want to develop the plan alongside community over the next year.

Many on the call criticized the council for only now wanting to take this drastic measure, saying they have had opportunities to act in the past and haven’t.

“Shame on the city council members for now wanting to re-invent the police force,” said one caller. “Where were you before? Shame on you if you’re listening on this call.”

One caller, Angela Smith, said she was the sister of David Smith, a black man who was killed by police in 2010. She said police used the same type of restraint on her brother as they used on George Floyd. Smith said that as part of the family’s settlement with the city they were supposed to train officers to not use that move. 

“All of our efforts were in vain, we had some sense of peace having this clause in the settlement,” said Smith. “We thought we had made a difference, but now I watch George Floyd call out for his mom. I just don’t know what else to do.”

The commission reminded those who were listening that they can’t shape law, impose discipline on officers or participate in union negotiations. The group, instead, is able to conduct audits on police and make recommendations to the city council on policy and procedure. In public comment, there was plenty of frustration over that in itself as people questioned the point of the commission if it doesn’t have more power. In response, the commission said any change to that would have to come from the state Legislature.