A Minneapolis couple and their neighbors have filed a lawsuit against the city and its mayor, alleging that both parties have failed to keep residents safe amid a spike in crime over the past year, Fox News has learned.
The lawsuit was filed in August but stalled in the courts amid the high-profile case of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer whose killing of George Floyd, a Black man, set off nationwide protests against police misconduct and racial injustice.
Dozens of community members march, Sunday, June 6, 2021, in Minneapolis, for Winston Boogie Smith Jr., who was fatally shot by members of a U.S. Marshals task force several days earlier.
The lawsuit accuses the city of operating outside a charter that requires a minimum threshold of police officers per citizen in Minneapolis. The petitioners say the city council’s move to defund the police, have caused officers to quit in droves, which in turn has contributed to an escalation in crime.
Doug Seaton, who is representing petitioners, told Fox News, his clients are long-time Minneapolis residents who are deeply engaged in the community.
He said their view – which, he believes is representative of the wider community – is that “although we support certain reforms of the police, we are absolutely opposed to defunding the police and reducing their numbers.”
“That’s the last thing this community needs and wants. And the violence that’s been occurring in these neighborhoods is a result of very detrimental policies espoused by certain city council members,” Seaton said. “Those policies must be stopped, must be ended. And we hope our case is the beginning of the means of doing that.”
Minneapolis has been ground zero for the “defund the police” movement in the wake of Floyd’s death. Though Chauvin was found guilty in Floyd’s death in April, unrest has continued and violence has escalated.
In February, the city backtracked on its original push to defund the police department after residents begged the city to hire more officers, citing longer response times, and increased violent crime.
Don Samuels, who along with his wife, Sondra, is listed among the petitioners, and has lived in Minneapolis for more than two decades, told Fox News he has witnessed his community descend into lawlessness over the past year.
“When the announcement was made to defund the police … that just opened the doors to a level of mayhem where taboos were erased, standards were no longer acknowledged because only the cops could be wrong – a citizen couldn’t be wrong,” Samuels said. “And so, the naivete of the leadership to not understand how the lawless community would exploit their announcement was maddening.”
Samuels acknowledged the role that protesters have brought in shining a light on police misconduct in certain circumstances but feels that the rush to defund police was shortsighted.
“Our mantra is not ‘either/or,’ but ‘both/and,” Samuels said. “Most of the protesters are young. They’re college students. They’re younger than college students. And they have a pretty limited framework for understanding how complex issues are.”
Police investigate a shooting as protesters gather on Thursday, June 3, 2021 in Minneapolis. Crowds vandalized buildings and stole from businesses in Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood after officials said a man wanted for illegally possessing a gun was fatally shot by authorities.
(Richard.Tsong-Taatari/Star Tribune via AP)
Samuels said many protesters believe their anti-cop demonstrations are a convenient way to wear the anti-racist badge. Yet few, if any, are willing to do what it takes to achieve meaningful reform in a city.
“If those people who are saying, ‘get rid of the police,’ would say, ‘you know what, we’re going to come in and we’re going to become a part of this community. We’re going to give our hard-earned income to shop in this community. We’re going to mentor kids in this community,’ now you’re talking,” Samuels said. “But you can’t just say, let’s get rid of the police and then live these other social deficiencies or problems in place.”
Seaton said he expects the district judge to issue a ruling on their lawsuit calling for more police officers as early as this month. Fox News has reached out to multiple Minneapolis City Council members for comment.
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