Law & the Courts

Ilhan Omar: Minneapolis Police Department ‘Rotten to the Root,’ Can’t Be Reformed

Representative Ilhan Omar speaks at the scene of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn., June 3, 2020. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Democratic Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar said Sunday that the Minneapolis Police Department is “rotten to the root,” making any attempt to reform it futile, and called for the city’s police force to be dismantled.

“You can’t really reform a department that is rotten to the root,” Omar said during an interview on CNN. “What you can do is rebuild. And so this is our opportunity, you know, as a city to come together, have the conversation of what public safety looks like, who enforces the most dangerous crimes that take place in our community.”

Calls to overhaul and defund the police department have emerged in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, including after Floyd passed out.

“A new way forward can’t be put in place if we have a department that is having a crisis of credibility, if we have a department that’s led by a chief who’s suited for racism, if we have a department that hasn’t solved homicides. Half of the homicides in Minneapolis Police Department go unsolved,” said the congresswoman, whose district encompasses the entire city of Minneapolis. “There have been cases where they’ve destroyed rape kits.”

“Right now they’re moving towards a process where there is a separation of the kind of crimes that solicit the help of, you know, officers, and the kind of crimes that we should have someone else respond to,” she said.

The Minneapolis police chief announced last week that he will immediately withdraw from negotiations with the city’s police union as the department considers a suite of reforms after George Floyd’s death.

Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey has called for “sweeping structural reform” of the department but has resisted calls to defund the city’s police force.

Meanwhile, the Minneapolis City Council last week announced that a veto-proof majority had voted to dissolve the department, a proposal opposed by both the mayor and police chief.

Both riots and peaceful protests against racism and police brutality have broken out in Minneapolis and in cities around the country in the wake of Floyd’s death.

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