We’re a small business based in Minneapolis. We contribute to the economy of the city, and we pay taxes to receive a service from the Minneapolis Police Department: Public safety.
In the last few weeks, we watched the Minneapolis Police Department kill an unarmed man named George Floyd, escalate a riot, lose control of the city, and then disappear from view.
People from outside the city flooded in to take advantage of the chaos and play a real-life game of Grand Theft Auto. The result was that over 500 small businesses like ours were damaged or destroyed.
911 stopped working. We were on our own, and we were forced to patrol our neighborhoods night and day to try to save our local small businesses.
Our office is still standing, thanks to the fact that our neighbors in Cedar-Riverside were posted up all night, every night, until it was over. This is a neighborhood of recent immigrants from East Africa. Unlike the Minneapolis police, they effectively protected the community without extorting the city for tax dollars. To all of our neighbors: We are grateful to be here with you.
This all left us with a big question: As a small business, did it make sense to continue paying for a service that was supposed to deliver public safety, but that instead had made us less safe? With any other service provider, the answer would be obvious: You end the contract.
In software development, there is a concept called “technical debt”. Basically it means: How much does it cost to keep investing in fixes to the existing system? Is it worth it, or is it time to throw it away and start from scratch?
Based on our experiences in Minneapolis in the past few weeks, we’ve come to the extraordinary conclusion that this is one of those times. The Minneapolis Police Department has been an expensive failure and a massive liability for our small business community, for our neighbors, and for public safety. It should be de-funded. In its place, we can build something better that makes the city safe for the people who live here.