Delay tactics from Charter Commission would deny urgent citywide conversation

[Would you like to send a message to the Charter Commission? Sign up to deliver your words over the phone at two public hearings to be held on July 15 and 21.]

Dear Members of the Charter Commission:

It’s clear that some of you have strong opinions on this public safety charter amendment. I won’t try to change your mind about the specifics of this proposal. It’s okay to disagree. I accept there’s a diversity of opinion from across the city–if not on this commission. Your role, if you think this shouldn’t be on the ballot, is to say so. Say no.

What I’m asking from commissioners is that you give us your honest recommendation in time for voters to make theirs. Do you honestly need more time to decide you don’t like this idea? Would your opinion in September be different than a conclusion reached in August? Your withholding of a timely decision would be seen for what it is: a tactic to deny 220,000 Minneapolis voters their chance to weigh in.

I commend the commission for its actions so far. You’ve scheduled additional meetings and multiple public hearings to meet the urgency that this moment demands. The Minneapolis Police Department is broken. We all watched on video as a city employee very nonchalantly killed a black man, while three other city employees watched. For 8 minutes, these officers ignored George Floyd’s cries for help and pleading from bystanders.

Our city is crying out for change. All 12 members of the City Council have agreed that transformation is in order. Incremental reforms have failed. Unanimously, the Council sent this amendment to you for a recommendation: an up or down vote (or even a substitute proposal). This charter amendment doesn’t enact the change we need. It makes it possible to have a debate. We need our elected officials — who represent every corner of the city — to have the ability to make these changes in response to the needs of their constituents.

I’m asking you — an appointed volunteer body made up largely of white, 60-plus-year-old residents of south Minneapolis — to make your honest recommendation. Do not delay. Don’t short circuit the process. Let the rest of us have this desperately needed conversation about the future of public safety in our city.