Question 1: What leadership experience qualifies you for the City Council?
I have spent the last fifteen years working as a Resident Advocate in an affordable housing
project in the Seward neighborhood. I am on the board for Phillips Neighborhood Clinic,
which helps immigrants receive healthcare coverage. I am an instructor of a Youth Mental
Health First Aid training that helps young people learn how to identify, understand and
respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders. I am a voice for our
community as a Resident Advocate, ensuring that those living in affordable housing have
protection from abusive landlords, eviction protection, and are fully educated in all of their rights as tenants.
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?
There is no question that the MPD has failed Minneapolis as an institution that protects and serves its citizens. Let me be clear: the MPD is broken. It needs reform that is community driven, and it needs to happen now.
Question 3: Do you support defunding and dismantling MPD? If so, can you define what that means to you?
I have spoken extensively to the people of Ward 6, and the overwhelming majority of
people are against the complete abolition of policing in our city. There are still fears
regarding the safety of people and property. However, almost all are in favor of a
reimagining of how policing looks and functions.
I am an advocate for drastically changing how we approach public safety issues in our
communities. I think that the way the police looks and functions needs to be drastically
altered. In my opinion as a Minnesota certified mental health first aid trainer and provider,
there needs to be less cops with guns responding to issues of mental health, homelessness
and substance abuse. Cops are not adequately trained to respond to, nor should they be
the ones who are called on to respond to these types of situations. More mental health
responders will significantly reduce police violence, but more importantly, a route to
recovery emerges to help those suffering from these issues. I also believe the MPD needs
to reflect the community it serves. That means creating incentives for more black and
minority officers on the force to be more representative of Ward Six (and Minneapolis). It
also means implementing residency restrictions, so that the cops who serve and protect us
live among us. We also need greater restrictions on use of deadly force and policies that
make firing officers who abuse their power easier.
Abolishing the police is not the right answer for our residents – they deserve the right to feel safe in their homes and community. However, for many, the police do not represent safety. We need to reform the way that the police functions in order to establish trust in our communities and to create public safety that is representative, transparent, and effective for ALL.
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?
I think that establishing a department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention is a great idea if it puts the establishment of policy and the disciplining of officers (including the power to fire officers) in the hands of the community. I think that allowing MPD to discipline themselves is one of the major reasons we have such mistrust in our policing right now. Policing should serve and have their policies be designed by the community.
In terms of my vote, there is a wide spectrum of what the impact of this initiative could look like. I reserve my opinion on the official vote until I know more about what this amendment’s exact wording and actionable items are. However, if the amendment supports the reforms I have outlined in this questionnaire, I would vote in favor of making these changes.