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Kate Knuth: Judge’s decision on Minneapolis ballot is a threat to democracy

It’s about all of us trusting that the system and process are fundamentally fair.

All right folks, the ups and downs of the Public Safety Charter Amendment continue. The legal wrangling is still going on. But I want to focus on something really, really important. How we strengthen our democracy and protect against it being weakened.

I am so angry about Judge Jamie Anderson’s decision. I’m searching deep for why. A big part of it is because our city desperately needs to vote on a path toward real public safety in Minneapolis. But my red hot anger goes deeper than that, to something more fundamental. Our democracy.

There is a reason I talk about strong democracy in my campaign — it is under threat. Yes, because of conspiracy theories about stolen elections. And also because young people are losing faith that democracy is important, worth investing in, and able to bring about a better future.

The lifeblood of democracy is all of us trusting in the system enough that even when decisions — whether it’s votes or court decisions — don’t go our way, we feel that the process was fundamentally fair and we will continue to work to make change within our democracy.

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The decision by Judge Anderson usurps a democratic process in Minneapolis. Even worse, it does so on the key challenge of our city — navigating a path to a public safety system that truly keeps every person in our city safe and undoes harmful policing practices.

Let’s remember why we’re here. In May 2020, MPD officers brutally murdered George Floyd. Minneapolis rose up to say that was unacceptable and demanded fundamental change. It’s the most reasonable demand.

Kate Knuth
Kate for Mpls
Kate Knuth
But we were stopped from voting on a path toward a public safety department led by the City Council. So, people organized within the democratic process. Hundreds of people gathered thousands of signatures to put the Public Safety Charter Amendment on the ballot

I’ll say that again: More than 20,000 Minneapolis voters signed a petition so we as a city could vote with courage, not fear, to build a public safety department with the foundation of keeping every person safe.

These petition signatures to vote on a public safety department had to be gathered in-person. During a pandemic. Think about how much work that was. How much faith in democracy it took to do it.

Now, a judge has ruled that the ballot language — agreed to by our City Council — cannot be on the ballot. With voting starting in just a few days, that could mean we won’t get to vote on a public safety charter amendment this year.

How could people in our city, so many of them young, not see this judge’s decision as an affront to our democracy? How could this judge’s decision, and the process leading up to it, not result in some people, particularly young people, losing faith in democracy?

So, where to from here? My fervent hope is the Minnesota Supreme Court reverses Judge Anderson’s decision. My second hope is we manage to dig deep, Minneapolis, to move fundamental change in public safety and policing that truly keeps every person safe.

Some opponents of the Public Safety Charter Amendment may see Judge Anderson’s decision as a win. It’s not. It’s not a win for anyone. Because the anger about police brutality, the lost faith in democracy? It’s still there. More potent than ever.

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This anger and loss of faith will erupt in ways we cannot fully predict. As a mayoral candidate (and hopefully mayor), it’s my job to help us productively wrangle with this anger and loss of faith. Help us use it to find our path forward to a safer, more democratic Minneapolis.

So, as we in Minneapolis continue to do the work of building and rebuilding our city within the imperfect democracy we have, my commitment is this. I will link arms with this city and forge our path to a safer Minneapolis, strengthening our democracy along the way.

Kate Knuth, a former state legislator, is running for mayor of Minneapolis.


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