Minneapolis residents ask City Council to reduce gun violence

The city council in June voted to reallocate $1.1 million from the police department to health and safety services

Several dozen northern Minneapolis residents gathered on Thursday evening to discuss a plan to end gun violence in the area with city council members, according to local reports.

A public awareness campaign focused on reducing gun violence called Guns Down, Love Up hosted the event at a local church with residents, Minneapolis City Council members Jeremiah Ellison and Phillipe Cunningham, and a Minneapolis Park Board representative. 

"Gun violence affects us all in every part of Minneapolis, The Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs," the group wrote Friday in a Facebook post. "Let's continue the conversation and work on solutions. Thank you to everyone who came out to listen and participate."

In a live-streamed video of the meeting posted to Facebook, residents and panelists shared personal stories of losing loved ones to gun violence and shared thoughts on what a more community-focused response might look like.

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Minneapolis has had an increase in violent crime, including gun violence, since the early months of summer, along with a number of other major U.S. cities. But this city's case is different because it is grappling with two hard questions after George Floyd's death: How can Minneapolis reduce crime? And how can Minneapolis reform its police department? 

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"Even as we’re out in the streets, demanding an end to police violence, we’re also demanding an end to gun violence in our community," activist and civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong -- who moderated the Guns Down, Love Up event on Thursday -- said, according to the Star Tribune.

Dr. Raj Sethuraju, a panelist at the event and co-chair of the Minneapolis NAACP’s criminal justice committee, said the community needs to work together to stop gun violence rather than rely on government, the outlet reported.

“I’m asking us how we’re going to put pressure on us, on ourselves and our government,” he said, according to the Star Tribune. “Every shot is a call for help.”

Almost immediately after news and video footage of Floyd's death went viral after Minneapolis Officer Derick Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes while attempting to arrest him, the city council held a rally in Powderhorn Park calling to "defund the police" -- a movement that gained steam over the summer.

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The council initially called to completely abolish the city's police department, but after hearing back from residents and working with other local leaders, the proposal was delayed. The council did, however, vote to reallocate $1.1 million from the police department to other safety and health services in June.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey's 2021 fiscal year budget plan also includes a $14 million cut to police department funding.

The Justice Department on Tuesday committed $3 million to a national center aimed at police reform and training and encouraged Minneapolis to be one of the first cities to take advantage of the center and its funds.

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