March 7, 2021 03:12

Minneapolis Lawsuit Contests ‘Defunding’ Police Moves

A lawsuit alleging that Minneapolis’ response to pressure from the ”defund the police” movement has left sections of the city without adequate law enforcement may lead to the filing of other similar cases around the U.S., says the lawyer who filed it, reports Law.com. The events that have led to the Minneapolis lawsuit, are not unique, says Douglas Seaton, a lead lawyer for Minneapolis residents asking a judge to force the city to get more “peace officers” onto the streets and out from behind desks to help bring calm and safety to the city. In Minneapolis, after George Floyd’s death, calls for “defunding the police” grew deafening; the city council voted June 26 to “dismantle” the police department and replace it with an undefined public safety program. More than 100 police officers soon either retired, quit or took extended disability leave. Seaton’s clients, fearing for their safety, demanded that the city replace departed officers and deploy the replacements immediately.

Minneapolis’ charter says the city must fund at least 0.0017 police employees per resident of Minneapolis, or 743 licensed “peace officers.” Seaton, president of the nonprofit Upper Midwest Law Center, believes many municipalities have similar rules. Seaton says he and his clients are hoping their suit will prompt legal actions across many cities that aim to stop police defunding campaigns and legislation. He says many activists calling for police defunding are middle- or upper-class progressives who don’t live in the poor city areas where police patrols are needed the most. “There is almost constant fusillades of gunfire in [his clients’] neighborhood” in recent months, said Seaton, describing Minneapolis’ Jordan neighborhood.

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