The Sunsetting of MPD150

Early in 2016 a discussion began among a small number of organizers in Minneapolis about how we could make use of an upcoming anniversary. It seems we were the only ones to notice that the next year would mark 150years of the Minneapolis Police Department. A new group, calling itself MPD150, would emerge from a meeting of around 30 activists, artists and researchers in a bookstore meeting room. This took place at a moment when the protests of police murders seemed to always land on the same demands for investigations, police oversight boards and other reforms that never made any real difference. At that meeting we committed to producing a long overdue performance review of the Department, hoping it would help clear the way for a more inspiring vision of change.What we set out to do was shake up common beliefs about the history, role and purpose of the police and introduce abolition as a serious goal and practical process. An ambitious goals since at that time abolition was treated as little more than a joke. Importantly, we decided to spend several years on this “narrative strategy” (it would end up including our report, Enough is Enough: a 150 year performance review of the Minneapolis Police Department, an audio book, an exhibit, zines, performances, teaching guides, a comic book and more) and then “sunset,” or dissolve, the organization. Our intention was to create conditions for new organizing initiatives, not to become a permanent organization ourselves.

The time for that sunsetting has arrived. Our closing event will be a virtual panel of activist/leaders from our communities, looking at the past, present and future of police abolition, on Monday, November 14. Please join us for our final sendoff..

We had actually already begun the process of winding down, publishing an expanded edition of our report and a few other closing tasks when the Minneapolis police murdered George Floyd, unleashing a local and national uprising – with global echoes. Unlike past waves of protest, this time police abolition was on people’s lips. The widespread hunger for a deeper understanding of what that meant led us to put the sunset on hold and through ourselves into the demands of the moment.

We are now in a different moment. Our work is far from over, of course – it will just take other forms. MPD150 will provide for ongoing access to our publications – and a few projects will continue on their own for a time.

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