On Thursday, July 1, a Hennepin County judge struck a major blow to the defund movement when she ordered the city of Minneapolis to hire more police. Hennepin County District Judge Jamie Anderson said Minneapolis leaders have “failed to perform an official duty clearly imposed by law.”
Judge Anderson ordered the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey to “immediately take any and all necessary action to ensure that they fund a police force” of at least 730 sworn officers, or more if required by the 2020 Census to be published later this year, by June 30, 2022.
Doug Seaton, President of the Upper Midwest Law Center, said: “This is a huge victory for the Petitioners and all residents of Minneapolis, especially those in the most diverse neighborhoods feeling the brunt of rising crime rates. We applaud the Court’s decision and look forward to swift action by the City Council and Mayor to fund the police and ensure the safety of all Minneapolitans.”
The City had projected that the Minneapolis Police Department would only have 669 sworn officers as of June 1, 2022, after an “exodus” through retirement, resignations, and officers taking extended leave. As reported by AlphaNews, Minneapolis argued that it only needs 650 sworn officers, “but this figure is based on the 2010 census. Anderson said a 2019 population estimate of 429,606 mandates a police force of at least 730 officers but likely more, depending on the figures in the 2020 census.”
“The Court believes the City has a responsibility to keep up with projected census numbers as each 10-year period approaches. As is the case from 2010 to 2020, population in Minneapolis has increased dramatically. If the City is not proactive in anticipating what will be required of it in coming years, it will constantly be behind — constantly underperforming and, as a result, understaffing the police force,” Anderson wrote in her order.
The order requires Minneapolis to take strong, immediate measures to increase its hiring substantially above what it had planned for 2021 and 2022.
The decision is a landmark victory for the Petitioners, eight Black and White residents of Minneapolis’ Jordan and Hawthorne neighborhoods on its embattled North Side, against the City Council’s illegal attempts to “Defund the Police,” in defiance of the Mayor and a minority of the City Council to maintain sufficient police staffing.
A majority of Minneapolis City Council members committed to defunding the police force weeks after the death of George Floyd in May 2020. Although violent crime spiked in the city, Mayor Frey agreed to cut $8 million from the police force and reroute the money to violence prevention and mental health response initiatives.
The Patriot Daily Press reported that the judge’s ordered came after several residents sued over the lack of law enforcement in the face of a spike in violent crime. Among the residents suing for more police was Don Samuels, a former member of the Minneapolis City Council.
“We have made the emotional appeal,” Samuels said. “We have demonstrated the statistical uptick and now this is the legal action we are exercising because it seems as if the City Council cannot hear us and doesn’t feel what we feel.”
The “Defund the Police” movement gained steam during the Black Lives Matter protests, but some like New Salem Baptist Church Rev. Jerry McAfee argued that it puts people at risk from crime.
“Let’s look at the facts! It has caused harm!” McAfee said to MSNBC about the “defund the police” movement. “To defund the police right now is absolutely, positively, insane.”
The Petitioners—Cathy Spann, Sondra Samuels, Don Samuels, Audua Pugh, Jonathan Lundberg, Aimee Lundberg, Georgianna Yantos, and Juliee Oden—are represented in the lawsuit by the Upper Midwest Law Center.