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Early voting begins on policing ballot question

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Early voting got underway in Minneapolis on Friday morning, a day after the Minnesota Supreme ruled that the votes will be counted on a ballot question over whether the city should replace its police department with a new Department of Public Safety.

Supporters of the proposed city charter amendment say it’s the only way to fix an intransigent culture of brutal policing that culminated with the death of George Floyd in police custody last summer.

Opponents, including Mayor Jacob Frey, say too many questions about how the new department would work remain unanswered.

Public safety is also expected to figure prominently in the mayor’s race and the 13 City Council races. There are also charter amendments on the ballot over the structure of city government and rent control.

The Minnesota Supreme Court clear the way for the policing amendment to go forward Thursday evening, ending a court fight over ballot language that lasted several weeks.

The proposal has its roots in the “defund the police” movement, which gained steam after Floyd’s death last summer sparked a national reckoning on racial justice. The amendment does not use the term “defund.” But it would remove the city charter’s requirement that Minneapolis have a police department with a minimum staffing level.

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