In response to the killing last week of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, Minneapolis Public Schools voted on Tuesday to end its $1.1 million contract with the city’s police department.
The unanimous vote was made after the board agreed that the actions of police against Floyd — in which he was handcuffed and held to the ground, with an officer’s knee pushed down onto his neck for nearly nine minutes, resulting in his death — “run directly counter to the values” of the school district.
Students and community groups in Minneapolis had been urging the school district for years to remove police — often referred to as school resource officers — from schools. Other incidents have occurred in the past that warranted a change in policy, they argued, and now Floyd’s death seems to have been the tipping point for the policy change this week.
“We could have had the debate all day: Do you put your money into police or social services and counselor support? That’s a back-and-forth that was going on for a long time,” student activist Nathaniel Genene told BuzzFeed News.
But the events of the last week — Floyd’s killing and the subsequent uprisings across the nation — appear to have changed the minds of those on the board who might have been hesitant to end the agreement with police before.
Floyd’s killing “just ended that conversation,” Genene added. “It was: ‘Do we align with the Minneapolis police, do they align with our values? Can you continue to align yourselves with a group of people that disenfranchise your students?’ I don’t think it was the same conversation anymore, morally.”
Members of the school board were direct in explaining their rationale over why they were ending the partnership with the police department. School board director Siad Ali said that Minneapolis police “do not meet our values, and therefore, we will have no business with this organization.”
Beyond the school district, a large number of organizations within the city are also asking for drastic changes to how the police department interacts with the community in general. Kandace Montgomery with the Minneapolis organization Black Visions, in an interview with Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, said that her group and others are “calling on our City Council and mayor to divest from the police and invest in community-led safety solutions.”
“We want justice for George Floyd, and we know that justice isn’t enough,” she added. “And now is the time to defund the police and invest in community.”