Question 1: What leadership experience qualifies you for the City Council?
I have worked as a community advocate in the Cedar-Riverside community for more that two decades helping residents with; housing, social services, Healthcare, employment, immigration, legal issues, etc. I have co-founded few non-profit organizations that help connect residents to resources in the city, county, the state and federal programs to make a seamless transition into their new home states. I have dedicated my life to public service of which I made a career out of it; I have lived experience serving the people of ward 6, a community I have worked to build bridges in and who associate my name with service. I have partnered with the county and the state to bring two light rail station to my neighborhood one in west bank and one in Cedar-Riverside. The name Bihi has always been associated with jobs meaningful jobs, attracting employers to the ward, giving our residents training, equipping them with the knowledge and skillset to do jobs that place them in a higher tax bracket than what they earned before. My knowledge in policy and legislation combined with my track record of advocacy and activism places me in a unique position to serve a community I love, a ward I have lived in for 24 years and a city I call home.
After a week of protests and unrest following the murder of George Floyd by a
Minneapolis police officer, 9 out of 12 members of the City Council pledged to
defund and dismantle what they consider to be a fundamentally broken police
Question 2: Do you share the assessment that MPD is fundamentally broken?
Absolutely; that is an indisputable fact, the real issue here is how can we build a
better alternative that’s inclusive and protects everyone regardless the color of their
skin and how can we reimagine public safety in the process. The Minneapolis Police
Department in its 150-year history has failed to demonstrate how it can be an
instrument of safety and protection for all. If elected I will work with my fellow
stakeholders to reform the police force in officer diversity and de-escalation training.
It will not be easy shifting 19th Century paramilitary force designed to keep black
and native people in check into an instrument of 21st Century safety but I am
willing to fight until we overcome every single obstacle. I am for dismantling the
police force only if we have safe procedures in place in the interim period until we
have an alternative to keep law and order in our city.
Question 3: Do you support defunding and dismantling MPD? If so, can you define what that means to you?
I am for dismantling the police force only if we have safe procedures in place in the
interim period until we have an alternative to keep law and order in our city. Partial
defunding of the police is an approach I see fit in order to keep our residents safe
during these tumultuous times until we have a department that could take over. My
approach to reimagining public safety in our City is to dismantle and rebuild MPD
with heavy involvement from the public. Giving Minneapolitans a voice in this
process and involve them every step of the way; apart of which is what the city
council passed on the 26th of June 2020, giving residents a chance to replace MPD
with community safety and violence prevention in the city charter, this fall in the
ballot. Meanwhile we could scale back the department and increase investment in
violence protection and mental health.
On June 26, the City Council voted unanimously for a ballot measure that would give voters the chance to remove MPD from the city charter and replace it with a new department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.
Question 4: What do you think are the most important structural changes that would be made by this charter amendment if approved by voters? Would you vote for or against the charter amendment, assuming it makes it onto the ballot in November?
MPD is fundamentally broken; Mr. Floyd’s murder added a new urgency to a
longstanding conversation on police reform and dissipate the strife between our police force and communities of color. The structural racism that exists in MPD makes it impossible for any reform to happen and that’s why we need to dismantle the department and create an equitable, impartial, unbiased, agency which protects Minneapolitans unconditionally with courage and compassion. However, we need to prioritize our residents’ safety in the process, to keep the current PD up until this fall when Minneapolitans go to the ballot to vote on this issue. In the interim period we have to keep the current department to help with violence prevention and preserve law and order, nevertheless, keep a watchful eye on the conduct of the officers during the transition. We will keep our officers when we finish the structure of the new department but will also ensure that all our officers live in Minneapolis and serve in their ward/neighborhood to attain full community policing. I will be voting for this charter amendment if it makes it to the ballot.