As community and political leaders with decades of experience driving change throughout the state, we’ve learned a few truths about the Black community. First, Black people are powerful. Despite hundreds of years of deliberate systemic oppression and being just 12-13% of the U.S. population, we have found ways to break barriers, make history, and influence every significant cultural and political conversation in the country.
Black people have political power, too. Historically, Black voters have been at the forefront of fights for justice, equity and civil rights. There are few places, nationally or locally, in which Black voters and Black opinions are not decisive.
Now, during our modern iteration of the civil rights movement, it’s more important than ever to convert the power of our protest into policy that has a tangible impact on our lives. As a community, we must once again reject the politics of fear, the sword of the status quo, and walk hand in hand towards a brighter and safer future for those we hold dear. We must stop settling for small promises from politicians and demand big change.
In Minneapolis, the long-overdue first step towards real change begins with voting yes on Question 2 to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a comprehensive Department of Public Safety. A vote for public safety flips power dynamics in favor of the people. Throughout U.S. history, laws and other tactics have been weaponized against citizens to silence their voices and restrict their right to vote.
Following George Floyd’s murder, young Black, brown, and indigenous people led the movement that demanded city leaders move away from violent policing to create a department that addresses community safety holistically and with a public health approach, but an unelected body of bureaucrats pushed back and blocked us from the 2020 ballot.
Still, we persisted and went door-to-door in the dead of winter during a pandemic to democratically and lawfully place the question on the ballot. The political establishment, corporate developers, and a handful of people with money and power pushed back again in an attempted coup of democracy by manipulating the legal system to stop residents, regardless of their viewpoint, from even voting on the amendment. This election is a chance for people to have a say in their future, heal racial divides, and send a clear signal that Black lives do matter.
Current leaders have been thinking small when it comes to safety. A vote for public safety will provide a range of options to address our growing public health and safety needs. Question 2 allows qualified professionals like social workers, mental health providers, substance abuse experts, and crisis de-escalation experts to proactively respond to situations that match their expertise and even coordinate with police when necessary.
In the past year, the city has witnessed a rise in community-based solutions such as community cooperatives, clean-ups, and community/neighborhood patrols, providing a sense of autonomy and self-determination. Black people know how to take care of each other when given the space and resources. Ultimately, an expanded department of public safety will help communities receive a right-sized response in times of need.
Current leaders have been living in the past when it comes to protecting Black and brown lives. A vote for public safety will modernize our city’s safety infrastructure and resources. The current city charter was written in 1961, setting minimum staffing requirements, resourcing, and other policies – equivalent to a Police Federation contract – in the city’s constitution.
The department currently reports exclusively to the mayor and runs independently of other agencies. The police will report to the mayor and city council in the new formation, like every other agency. This arrangement forces more accountability and transparency than previously before.
But the status quo does not want to talk about this. They want Black residents and other communities experiencing high incidents of violent crime paralyzed by the fear that police will not exist at all. According to a recent analysis by Reuters, police stops dropped 70%. They would rather abandon the community than be held accountable for their actions and learn more effective ways to do their jobs.
Should Question 2 pass, the mayor and city council would work together to develop the new department’s appropriate ordinances, policies, and staffing framework. Black voters have a chance to secure the resources their community needs rather than rely on the fragmented approach that the city has taken for the last 60 years.
Black people have always seen possibility when society has shown us pain and problems. It’s time to not only reimagine public safety but harness our political power to create the future we need.
Corenia Smith is a community organizer, Licensed Practical Nurse, and campaign manager for Yes 4 Minneapolis. Miski Noor [they/them] is an organizer and writer based in Minneapolis, MN where they are Co-Director with Black Visions
A Disturbing Timeline Of Ahmaud Arbery's Killing And Murder Investigation In Georgia
1. October 20191 of 43
2. November 2019
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This video is from 11/17. Larry English called 911 on 11/18 and said he had a problem with "other people" the night before. This appears to show that day and is from English's attorney. There is no record of neighbors calling 911 this day, based off records from Glynn Co 911 pic.twitter.com/BXlyYEaBcL— Wright Gazaway (@WrightKATU) May 15, 2020
3. Dec. 20, 2019
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Police told the homeowner where #AhmaudArbery was last seen to contact Greg McMichael if his cameras caught someone on his property. McMichael in turn gathered a posse & began hunting for Ahmaud, or someone who fit his description, catching up with him on 2/23/20– killing him. pic.twitter.com/BmlmW636f5— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) May 16, 2020
4. Dec. 20, 2019
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This is the man that set the plan in motion that led to the murder of #AhmaudArbery.— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) May 18, 2020
ROBERT RASH is a Glynn County Police Officer.
He instructed a homeowner to contact Gregory McMichael to deal w/ trespassers.
McMichael and his son formed a posse and murdered Ahmaud Arbery. pic.twitter.com/ZqZg567Agp
5. Feb. 11, 2020
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Larry English’s attorney gave me this video from Feb 11. It shows the incident outlined in my story when Travis McMichael called 911 and saw someone in the home. On 2/23, he and his father thought the Abrery was who they saw on the 11th pic.twitter.com/C2gVJCJ3xQ— Wright Gazaway (@WrightKATU) May 14, 2020
6. Feb. 23Source:Getty 6 of 43
7. Feb. 27, 2020
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This is the DA who blocked the arrest of 2 white supremacist TERRORISTS after they murdered an innocent black man execution style while he was jogging in his neighborhood— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) May 9, 2020
JACKIE JOHNSON NEEDS TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR OBSTRUCTING & ENDANGERING THE LIVES OF BLACK MEN
ARREST HER pic.twitter.com/ngSIEGMCq1
8. Feb. 27, 20208 of 43
9. Feb. 29, 2020Source:Getty 9 of 43
10. March 2020
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If you’re wondering why no charges were initially filed on the murderers of #AhmaudArbery, it’s because D.A. George Barnhill immediately concluded Arbery was a criminal & that he attacked the men who were hunting him.— Benjamin Dixon (@BenjaminPDixon) May 7, 2020
This is letter Barnhill sent to the Brunswick authorities pic.twitter.com/vsGCboful7
11. April 2, 2020
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Police report sheds more light on Satilla Shores shooting https://t.co/Zi6YVGTkhK— The Brunswick News (@Brunswick_News) April 2, 2020
12. April 3, 202012 of 43
13. April 1313 of 43
14. April 26, 2020
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We’ll never know how often Black life is taken, justice denied:— Dr. Malinda S. Smith (@MalindaSmith) May 9, 2020
“Two Weapons, a Chase, a Killing and No Charges.
A 25-year-old man running through a Georgia neighborhood ended up dead. A prosecutor argued that the pursuers should not be arrested” @nytimes https://t.co/pJA6kSK6cj
15. April 28, 202015 of 43
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20. May 8, 2020
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On what would have been his 26th birthday, people were jogging 2.23 miles in his honor to signify the date he was killed by Gregory and Travis McMichael, who racially profiled and shot the jogger in Brunswick, Georgia. #IrunwithMaud #IRunwithAhmaudhttps://t.co/V2KuBaeKjx— NewsOne (@newsone) May 9, 2020
21. May 9, 2020Source:Getty 21 of 43
22. May 10, 202022 of 43
23. May 11, 2020
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Another huge WIN for #JusticeForAhmaud! At the family’s demand— a special prosecutor will replace Tom Durden the S. GA prosecutor that sat on the case until video of Ahmaud’s murder was leaked. Joyette Holmes is out of @cobbcountygovt. Her office is being reviewed for conflicts. pic.twitter.com/rcuQ7UPOfE— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) May 11, 2020
24. May 12, 2020Source:Twitter 24 of 43
25. May 13, 2020
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“Ahmaud, I am so sorry. I should have stopped them,” reads the note. “I am so sorry.” The card was not signed by a name and no more information or context was provided, including when the card was left there. https://t.co/nzzY5aNple— NewsOne (@newsone) May 14, 2020
26. May 14, 2020Source:Getty 26 of 43
27. May 18, 2020
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Because this story wasn't bad enough now we discover Lindsay McMichael, the daughter and sister of Ahmaud Arbery’s alleged killers, posted a picture of Ahmaud’s deceased body to snapchat pic.twitter.com/RwTwzrAXAG— Reese Waters (@reesewaters) May 19, 2020
28. May 18, 202028 of 43
29. May 20, 2020Source:Getty 29 of 43
30. May 20, 2020
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Today, the GA Congressional Delegation co-signed a letter to U.S. AG William Barr and Asst AG Eric Dreiband, encouraging the use of “all possible Federal resources to achieve full justice, transparency, and accountability in the case of Mr. Ahmaud Arbery.” https://t.co/8FcMZEEKWF— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) May 20, 2020
31. May 21, 2020Source:WJAX 31 of 43
32. May 25, 2020
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NEW: Attorneys for Ahmaud Arbery's parents announce that the Department of Justice will be investigating Arbery's killing and why it took so long to arrest the people responsible. See their statement here: pic.twitter.com/yfcnrT5SjV— Hayley Mason (@HayleyMasonTV) May 26, 2020
33. June 2020
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Reports of a photo op with the president or standing with the White House during the EO signing are false.— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) June 16, 2020
Show me the civil rights leaders who are upset about families making a direct appeal for federal intervention after the murder of their loved one & I’ll show you a clown. pic.twitter.com/GXR5arB8Mz
34. June 17, 2020Source:WJAX 34 of 43
35. November 2020Source:Getty 35 of 43
36. December 2020
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William ‘Roddie’ Bryan tried to publicly absolve himself of having any part in Ahmaud Arbery’s modern-day lynching, but this newly released bodycam footage confirms what we long suspected: He clearly used his truck to block Ahmaud's escape from the McMichaels! pic.twitter.com/UAms4LYS28— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) December 15, 2020
37. January 2021Source:Getty 37 of 43
38. February 2021Source:Getty 38 of 43
39. Feb. 23, 2021Source:Getty 39 of 43
40. April 2021Source:Getty 40 of 43
41. May 2021Source:Getty 41 of 43
42. September 2021
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This is the mugshot of disgraced District Attorney Jackie Johnson who was just arrested today for her role in the coverup of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. pic.twitter.com/OKF2xKkV3Z— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) September 8, 2021
43. October 2021Source:Getty 43 of 43
Vote Yes on 2: Minneapolis Deserves Big Change Not More Small Promises was originally published on newsone.com