While I continue to bide time and build suspense about a potential run from Minneapolis City Council in Ward 12, I’ve been thinking about how to regrow Minneapolis. Not just in terms of what is feasible for a first-term, independent, Council Member to accomplish, but the bigger picture of how a city might be restructured to increase the likelihood of effective community-control of municipal governance.
The main impetus for thinking about a run for City Council was to try and fill the idea void left by the current Council when it turned out that #defund and #abolishpolice were nothing but a vapid ploy to get media attention and seem important, with a concrete proposal to establish community control of police through a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC). Recognizing and respecting the work of Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice 4 Jamar (TCC4J) and others that have taken the lead on this critical issue, my goal was to lift it up and amplify the community-control narrative. Where the current City Council created chaos and confusion, community groups like TCC4J provide a solid plan that can be implemented if we have the will to do so. Whether I run. Whether I win. Those are not the issue or the point. The issue is an unaccountable culture of violence, retribution, and hatred pervades our police department, and the point is that we can do something about it. If I were a Council Member, I would be relentless on the issue of holding MPD, the Minneapolis Police Federation, and individual cops accountable for their violent, murderous tactics and toxic culture.
Make no mistake about it, establishing community and civilian control of MPD decentralizes and democratizes power from MPD, City Hall, and MPRB through the Park Patrol. It seems logical and beneficial to consider decentralizing more of the municipal power from that triad and establishing community control of other city functions and services. How far beyond CPAC we have the stomach and the strength to take our city is the question. Do we want community control of land use and development? How about the food supply and ground water? Should the people control our health services? Zoning, taxation, and investment? If your answer is “yes”, then you may already be part of the MPLS Initiative. Minneapolis People for Liberation and Solidarity.
If we truly want to renew Minneapolis, we need to rethink the whole endeavor. From the deep roots of history sunk into Native land, through the grass roots, up to branches, and into the blooms all across this city, in every neighborhood. Realize that there are community-led initiatives, organizations, and networks already in place around Minneapolis that are distributing resources in the ways I believe a city government should do. It seems logical that the municipal government promote and support the people already doing the work. Instead, our current city government encouraged former city politicians to form new non-profit organizations claiming to be able to do that work, but without consulting the people already doing it, and cash checks from now until doomsday. That mechanism works, in part, because power in Minneapolis is centralized in 3 main places City Hall, MPD, and MPRB. Breaking up those power centers into more elected seats and more focused councils and boards, will democratize Minneapolis.