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The Minneapolis Dilemma

Mayor Jacob Frey has been walking a tight rope between public safety and racial justice. It is yet to be seen if he will meet the challenges of this unique task.

Life has not been easy for Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey since the killing of George Floyd by a white officer for the Minneapolis Police Department in May.

Mr. Frey, a 38-year-old civil rights lawyer who came into office to improve community relations and hold police accountable, has been placed in the center of conflict between activists and police.

In June, protestors demanded for him to “go home!” after he refused to commit to abolishing the police.

Frey has also butt-heads with the Minneapolis police union for putting into place reforms that reduce allowable use of force.

He has also instituted a new policy that pairs new officers with those that have limited conduct complaints.

Before the Floyd murder, The City of Lakes mayor also ensured that police body cameras were to be taken seriously after the city was still recovering from the horrific Philando Castile murder that was also at the hands of a Minneapolis Police Department officer.

Despite reforms, there is little evidence that safety or police relations with the community have been improving in the city.

Violent crime is up substantially and public trust in the police is as at an all-time low.

Minneapolis residents now favor city council’s policies on policing over Frey’s. The city council voted to defund the police department in June.

Mr. Frey characterized the gesture as vague and instead emphasized the need for deep structural reforms within police departments.

In August, the city’s charter commission halted defunding and pleaded for more time to decide if defunding was the right approach.

Mr. Frey is running out of time. If he can’t reimagine public safety while also keeping crime at bay, it would be a missed opportunity for meaningful police reform.


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