MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - A Minneapolis City Council Member who did not sign a pledge to end the Minneapolis Police Department released a statement explaining her decision Tuesday.
Linea Palmisano said she attended the Powderhorn Park rally Sunday where the nine council members made the announcement, but sat in the audience to listen and participate in the small group discussions with her son.
She said she agrees that incremental efforts to change the police department have failed and that “our police have failed to protect people of color in Minneapolis.”
She added that “We need to rethink public safety and provide a community driven model.”
Without knowing exactly what that means, however, Palmisano said she could not sign the pledge.
“We need to change these systems. I do not know what that looks like yet, especially when we as an elected body are not on the same page as to what these words mean,” she said. “I want to be clear in my commitments, and I could not sign this pledge.”
Although she did not sign the pledge, Palmisano pledged work to enact transformational change during this moment.
“We cannot throw away the ball during the opening of this moment,” she said. “It is the best shot we have at real, structural and lasting change.”
Here is the full statement from Council Member Linea Palmisano:
On Sunday afternoon, nine of my colleagues took the stage at a rally, in Powderhorn Park, where they signed onto and read a pledge vowing to end the Minneapolis Police Department. To be clear- this was not any official act of council, but rather a commitment to what is written in the pledge. So I cancelled my Sunday plans, grabbed my 9 year old son, and attended this rally, standing in support of much of the outrage that fueled the development of this pledge, and participated in the group circles that happened afterward. Because everyone deserves to feel safe. The vision for the best path forward is really that simple.
A lot of promises are being made. Whether in the pledge of my colleagues or during interviews, there are provocative words like dismantle, defund and abolish. These words mean different things to different people in this city, and I’ve received hundreds of messages from you about them. Some of you are calling for the complete abolition of police in Minneapolis. Some of you are calling for sweeping reforms that touch on issues of officer discipline, alternative responses to 911 calls, or an open mind to consider new and creative ideas for public safety that have yet to be proposed. Many of you recognize that change is desperately needed but aren’t sure what that looks like yet.
I agree that our efforts at incremental change have failed. Our police have failed to protect people of color in Minneapolis. While I have worked to implement oversight, accountability and ensure robust training for our officers, these measures did not protect George Floyd. They did not serve others, particularly people of color, that have suffered at the hands of police. We need to rethink public safety and provide a community driven model.
We need to change these systems. I do not know what that looks like yet, especially when we as an elected body are not on the same page as to what these words mean. I want to be clear in my commitments, and I could not sign this pledge.
I want to invest in alternatives to create community safety. I will listen to other voices and ideas. A host of the Sunday gathering said, “We are not calling for the elimination of help.” Regardless of how you view the future of public safety, we all agree that if you need help, it should come quickly and in a way that makes you feel safe.
Many in our city have grown up in fear of police. Let’s explore how our city can end that fear and better provide help. The responses needed from situation to situation greatly vary. We must be united as a city in this work.
Many of you are excited or nervous about what the details could look like. I promise you, I am too. This is going to take some tough conversations, self-awareness of privilege and discomfort, and a whole lot of listening. We have a unique opportunity in our new partnership with the state to create broader reforms across the entire system. And it will take all of us to get it right. We cannot throw away the ball during the opening of this moment, it is the best shot we have at real, structural and lasting change.
As we begin to gather cautiously and appropriately distanced in the coming days, I hope you will invite me into your own conversations with neighbors about this topic. I will be at neighborhood meetings as usual to hear from you and answer questions as they come. To the extent possible, I would be happy to meet with small groups online or at small distanced gatherings (with measures being taken due to COVID concerns, of course).
Reforms are tools we use to achieve transformation. Our police department will be transformed when all communities feel served by those providing public safety, and that is the kind of transformation I am committed to working towards.