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News and notes on guns in America

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[Photo by Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images]

Daily Bulletin: ‘Defund the Police’ Gets Real in Minneapolis

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Minneapolis council vows to dismantle police force. Declaring incremental police reforms a failure, a veto-proof majority of the City Council announced their intention to overhaul how the city pursues public safety. “We recognize that we don’t have all the answers about what a police-free future looks like, but our community does,” they said in a statement. One member hinted at what could replace traditional police functions in a Time op-ed, including “dispatch[ing] mental health professionals to mental health calls” and “unarmed, community-oriented street teams… to focus on de-escalation.” The big picture: Once-obscure arguments for defunding the police are gaining momentum and several mayors have announced cuts to their law enforcement budgets. But Minneapolis is the first major city to commit to such a sweeping transformation.

Black-led gun violence prevention group rallies against aggressive policing. Another sign of the shifting tides came via an open letter from the Community Justice Action Fund, which is demanding that other gun violence prevention organizations join the push for shifting public resources away from law enforcement and toward community-based, public health-informed interventions. “The issue of gun violence many times… seems to be very singularly focused on either the person or on a gun, like who has access to guns,” said Amber Goodwin, the group’s executive director. “We always knew there also were deeper-rooted issues with violence, and that police violence is in fact gun violence.” The statement, first reported by The Hill, was co-signed by prominent national gun reform groups as well as Amnesty International, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and the American Federation of Teachers.

There were at least seven mass shootings this weekend. While the nation has whipsawed between coronavirus lockdowns and massive anti-racism protests, fatal shootings have increased during the first months of 2020. A number of multiple-victim incidents added to the toll between Friday and Sunday:

  • One person was killed and four others were wounded when gunfire erupted during an argument in a parking lot in Kansas City, Missouri 
  • One person was killed and four others were injured at a house party in Sacramento, California
  • Four people were wounded outside a bar in Ironton, Ohio
  • Nine people were shot, two fatally, at a house party in Sikeston, Missouri 
  • Five people were wounded at an American Legion in
    Dyersburg, Tennessee
  • Five people were injured at a block party in Hope, Arkansas
  • One person was killed and three others were injured on the Near West Side of Chicago

As peaceful demonstrations swelled around the country, a gunman drove his car into protestors in Seattle. At about 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, a black Honda barreled toward an intersection that has been a venue for the city’s ongoing protests. As some scrambled to block the car’s path, the driver fired from inside the vehicle, striking a 27-year-old man who was treated by street medics. The driver got out of his car and brandished his gun before police took him into custody.

A Black man in Denver says police held his children at gunpoint. Naphtali Israel says he asked his 14-year-old step-daughter to watch two younger siblings while he finished shopping at a Safeway where a store employee had called 911 to report a Black man sitting in his car with a firearm. Officers stopped Israel, who was unarmed, as he left the store. A lawyer representing him says security camera footage shows an officer pointing a gun at the children during the incident. The Denver Police Department has defended the officers’ actions but says it is investigating his complaint.

Police arrested a suspect in the fatal shooting of a retired St. Louis police captain during last week’s protests. David Dorn, 77, was killed outside his friend’s pawn shop during a night when four active-duty police officers were also shot and wounded in the city. On Sunday, police arrested a 24-year-old suspect in Dorn’s murder.

DATA POINT

There have been at least 116 shootings and gun-related incidents related to the demonstrations against police brutality that have taken place across the country since the death of George Floyd two weeks ago. [Gun Violence Archive]