For Immediate Release:
October 3, 2022
Minneapolis Eight and Upper Midwest Law Center Dismiss Lawsuit Against Police Defunding After Supreme Court Victory and Commitments to Restoring Minneapolis’ Police
Minneapolis, MN- The “Minneapolis Eight,” who stood up against police defunding which devastated the North Side of Minneapolis in a 2020 lawsuit, today dismissed that lawsuit against the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey after winning the legal issues in the Minnesota Supreme Court and seeing the complete reversal of police defunding policies in Mayor Frey’s proposed 2023-2024 budget.
The plaintiffs, including Cathy Spann, Don Samuels, Sondra Samuels, Audua Pugh, Georgianna Yantos, Juliee Oden, Jonathan Lundberg, and Aimee Lundberg, obtained a huge victory from the Minnesota Supreme Court on June 20 when the Court ordered Mayor Frey to either bring the police force up to the Charter-required minimum or show cause why he could not. This landmark case definitively rejected the former City Attorney’s legal interpretation of the Charter, which would have allowed any mayor to personally dismantle the MPD.
After the June 20 victory, Mayor Frey proposed a budget that demonstrates a commitment to restoring the Minneapolis police force—and which commitment is legally necessary for Mayor Frey to uphold his Charter-mandated duties. It includes $8.6 million for overtime expenses—an increase from prior years’ deficit proposals. It includes $1.5 million for partnerships with other jurisdictions to aid Minneapolis with immediately needed policing. It increases the police staffing budget by $6.5 million in 2024 and the civilian support budget by $3.375 million. It includes a $750,000 plan for internships for Minneapolis high school students who are interested in becoming police officers. And it proposes a $1.45 million investment in behavioral crisis response, a program that fielded 1,600 mental health-related calls that would otherwise take up sworn officer resources. The City is also pursuing a comprehensive recruitment strategy that will use American Rescue Plan Act funds to search for the right police candidates for Minneapolis aggressively.
These proposals are a complete reversal of the City’s mid-2020 policies that led to the filing of the lawsuit. In the summer of 2020, after the murder of George Floyd, the City Council pledged to defund the Minneapolis police. They made good on their word, and the City soon thereafter slashed the MPD budget by over $10 million, leading to the canceling of all police academies and the termination of the CSO program, a feeder program for bringing community-oriented officers into the MPD from local sources. As documents from within the MPD showed, these actions undoubtedly caused additional attrition beyond the attrition caused by rising PTSD claims by officers.
After winning the legal victory in this case and seeing the dramatic shift in policy toward the restoration of the Minneapolis police, the Minneapolis Eight are shifting their focus to observing the budget process and ensuring that Mayor Frey’s proposals, which are entirely necessary to comply with his legal duties under the Charter, become the law.
Doug Seaton, President of the Upper Midwest Law Center, said: “We are thrilled to have represented our great clients who have won this battle against police defunding in Minneapolis. At this point, after winning the legal victory and seeing the Mayor’s commitment to restoring the Minneapolis police, we are encouraged about the future of Minneapolis’ safety. We encourage the City Council to provide even greater investment in Minneapolis’ safety than the Mayor has proposed in this budget. And we do believe, from the legal perspective, that the Mayor’s proposal is essential for the Mayor to uphold his legal duties under the Charter. The North Side and all of Minneapolis desperately need it.”