Ilhan Omar Defends Call to Dismantle Minneapolis Police — Department Is ‘Rotten to the Root’

Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) said her support on Minneapolis City Council voting to defund the police is because “you can’t really reform a department that is rotten to the root.”

Partial transcript as follows:

TAPPER: You have talked about the dismantling, the need to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department. What takes its place, and — if you could just decree what takes its place? Who investigates crimes? Who arrests criminals? What happens?

OMAR: So, Minneapolis unanimously just voted on a resolution that will engage the community on a one-year process of what happens as we go through the process of dismantling the department and starting anew. A new way forward can’t be put in place if we have a department that is having a crisis of credibility, if we have a department that’s led by a chief who’s suited for racism, if we have a department that hasn’t solved homicide. Half of the homicides in Minneapolis Police Department go unsolved.

There have been cases where they have destroyed rape kits. And so you can’t really reform a department that is rotten to the root. What you can do is rebuild. And so this is our opportunity, you know, as a city, to come together, have the conversation of what public safety looks like, who enforces the most dangerous crimes that take place in our community. And just like San Francisco did, right now, they’re going — they’re moving towards a process where there is a separation of the kind of crimes that solicit the help of officers and the kind of crimes that we should have someone else respond to. And so this is really — this is, again, just the process of going through this together.

TAPPER: Just to be clear, though, you’re not saying that there’s nothing that takes its place. You’re not saying…

OMAR: Absolutely not. I think that’s really where the conversation is going wrong, because no one is saying that the community is not going to be kept safe. No one is saying crimes will not be investigated. No one is saying that we are not going to have proper response when community members are in danger.

What we are saying is, the current infrastructure that exists as policing in our city should not exist anymore. And we can’t go about creating a different process with the same infrastructure in place. And so dismantling it, and then looking at what funding priorities should look like as we reimagine a new way forward is what needs to happen. And that is truly why you have 13 members unanimously on a city council vote to start this process. And I know that there are many places where a process like this is needed, many places where they might not go through the drastic process of dismantling. But just like in Camden, they realized that there was just a department that was beyond reform, as it was. They dismantled it, and they figured out a different way to move forward as a community in regards to providing public safety for one another. And that’s what needs to happen in Minneapolis, and that’s what we’re committed to.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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