“Every single night on any block in this neighborhood, you can hear gunshots! Every single freaking night!” said Cathy Spann, one of the eight plaintiffs, who talked during a press conference on Monday, Oct. 19, about how she and the seven other plaintiffs have had enough of the gun violence that is hurting their city.
Spann and her seven other co-plaintiffs all live in Jordan, a neighborhood in the northern part of the city, which has recently experienced higher concentrations of violent crime compared to other parts of Minneapolis.
“We all know we have to have reform of the police department,” said Sondra Samuels, another one of the plaintiffs. “Everybody wants that. Everybody! There's nobody who thinks that shouldn't happen. But in addition with that, we need protection. We need adequate police protection. We have to do both.”
Don Samuels, husband of Sondra and a former member of the city council, is also a plaintiff. He pointed out how the city experienced a “statistical uptick” in violent crime after the engineered rioting in the city began and the city council stopped supporting the MPD. Now, he and the seven other plaintiffs are suing the city because they believe that the city council “cannot hear us and doesn't feel what we feel.” (Related: “Where are the police?” Anti-police Minneapolis City Council begs department to stop surging crime rate three months after voting to defund and abolish the police.)
According to the plaintiffs, the city is arguing that they cannot file a case regarding the supposed lack of a police presence in their neighborhood because none of them have personally been hit by gunfire.
“We've seen our neighbors take bullets,” Sondra argued. “We know the 20-year-old – we know the six-month-old who's in the car when her mom gets shot up.”
Jon Lundberg, another plaintiff, argued that he picked up a bullet right outside his house. He also argues that the city council's hostility toward the police is causing the rise in violence.
Back in June, the city council voted not just to defund the MPD but to completely demolish it and replace it with a less-armed department for community safety. Crime in the city surged immediately afterward, and the city has since changed its mind to instead focus on defunding the police. For example, Frey's 2021 budget plan includes a $14 million budget cut to the MPD.
James Dickey, the attorney representing the Samuels' and their six other co-plaintiffs, is arguing that the government of Minneapolis is legally obligated to fund the MPD and to employ a specific number of police officers. According to the city's charter, the MPD must have 0.0017 sworn officers per Minneapolis resident. Given the city's current estimated population, Dickey argues that the city is required to have a minimum of 753 officers on active duty at all times.
According to Dickey, city officials are refusing to provide him with any details regarding how many officers the MPD currently has on active duty. He is arguing that they do not meet the charter's requirements, because he claims to have it on good authority that many MPD officers are either quitting, retiring or taking extended leaves – supposedly due to medical reasons such as medical disability or post-traumatic stress disorder – because of the hostile anti-police working environment in Minneapolis.
“We simply want to have enough police on the streets to keep Minneapolis safe,” said Dickey.
According to data gathered from the city, between Jan. 1 and Oct. 1 of this year, around 100 officers have either resigned or have taken a leave lasting longer than two weeks. The MPD has only hired 30 new officers this year to replenish the department's numbers.
Despite this data, Assistant City Attorney Greg Sautter argues that the city government has met its staffing obligations. Sautter is looking to get the lawsuit dropped.
In response to this assertion, Dickey showed a sworn affidavit from an official within the city's human resources department saying that, as of Oct. 7, at least 33 officers have applied for “duty disability.”
The lawsuit has been referred to Hennepin County Judge Jamie Anderson, who did not make a ruling when she first met with the plaintiffs and the defendants on Monday. She has up to 90 days to make a final decision on the matter.
Learn more about how anti-police environments are making crime rates in cities such as Minneapolis surge exponentially by reading the latest articles at Rioting.news.