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Phrasing Of Referendum To 'Strike And Replace' Minneapolis Police Under Scrutiny

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - In a little over two weeks, Minneapolis voters will start going to the polls.

On the ballot is a referendum to essentially "defund" the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a new Department of Public Safety.

The referendum states:

"Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to strike and replace the Police Department with a Department of Public Safety which could include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary, with administrative authority to be consistent with other city departments to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety?"

Former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels said he is suing to change the wording of the referendum. WCCO asked Samuels if he believes the language in the referendum is "confusing or misleading."

"It is confusing, it is misleading," said Samuels.

The side that wants to replace the police department disagrees. WCCO asked JaNae' Bates of Yes4Minneapolis the same questions.

"No, no it is not," said Bates.

Some people believe that if the referendum passes, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo will be out of a job. Bates addressed the rumor.

"That is a lie, nothing about this referendum says Chief Arradondo has to be demoted or decreased from power," she said.

Samuels disagreed with Bates, saying the referendum does mean Arradondo will be fired.

"Yes, [but] they might hire him back," said Samuels.

Voters will have to decide which clashing arguments to believe as national groups contribute to both sides.

The side that aims to replace the police department, called Yes4Mpls, has allocated $475,000 in funding. The side that wants to keep the current department, called AllofMinneapolis, has funded $109,000.

Political leaders are weighing in, including Attorney General Keith Ellison and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who are both in support of replacing the department.

Gov. Tim Walz, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Jacob Frey and Chief Arradondo would all like to keep the current Department.

Early voting begins on September 17.

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