I join our community in outrage over the murder of George Floyd. My heart goes out to his family and friends and all those grieving this senseless and intolerable loss. The murder of George Floyd, on the ground with the knee and weight of a police officer on his neck, is not an isolated incident. It reflects the ways in which our city and state don’t measure up on issues of racial justice. The anger and frustration flooding out of our communities isn’t simply because of George Floyd’s murder, but a society that has failed our neighbors of color time after time after time. Black Minneapolitans, and every person of color in our city, deserve answers and change.
First, we need justice for George Floyd. This means prosecuting the officer who killed him for murder and holding the other officers accountable for their inaction. That’s why I’m so grateful that Attorney General Ellison, at the request of George Floyd’s family and many in the community, will be prosecuting the officers involved in George Floyd’s death. This is an important step to regain community trust.
Our Minneapolis Police Department has a deep-seated and unacceptable culture that needs to be uprooted and transformed. As a member of the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee, I’ve introduced legislation to require independent prosecution of police officers in officer-involved killings so there’s no conflict of interest with the local prosecutor’s office and to require training for de-escalation and awareness around mental health. I’m also strongly supportive of the policy proposals put forward by the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus, which include:
- Use of force modifications: modify “use of force” laws to prioritize sanctity of life
- Alternatives to policing: provide state funding for programs that partner community-based intervenors and problem solvers with local peace officers
- Police residency requirements: lift ban on city and county residence requirement for peace officers
- Prosecutorial reform: establish Attorney General jurisdiction for prosecution of police involved loss of life
- Investigatory reform: design an independent police investigation unit in the BCA
- Arbitration reform: change the entity that settles labor disputes from arbitrators to administrative law judges
- Regulatory reform: overhaul the Police Officer Standards and Training board
- Training: expand peace officer training in de-escalation, mental health crisis intervention, and responding to people with disabilities
- Data collection: collect real time complaint and use of force data and use it to inform reforms
I’ll fight to pass these long overdue reforms in future legislative sessions, including a likely special session this Friday. A full list of the proposals is available here.
Virtual Town Hall – Thursday at 6 p.m.
As I’ve mentioned, it’s likely a special legislative session will take place on Friday. Before we head back into session, Rep. Frank Hornstein, Sen. Scott Dibble, and I would like to share what we’ll be fighting for and hear your feedback. Please join us for a virtual town hall via Facebook Live this Thursday at 6 p.m.
We’ll also be joined by a few Minneapolis Councilmembers, who will share an update on reforming the Minneapolis Police Department. You can find more details and RSVP here.
Stay Safe MN
The Minnesota Department of Health is advising everyone who attended a protest, vigil, or community event to get tested for COVID-19. If you start to feel sick, you should get tested right away. If you don’t feel sick, get tested 5-7 days after the event. If the test is negative and you’re worried you might have been exposed, you can get another test 12-14 days after the event. You can find more information and a testing location near you here.
Governor Walz announced last week that a new phase of the Stay Safe Plan will start on Wednesday, June 10. Indoor dining, gyms, and entertainment venues can begin reopening, and places of worship, salons, and barbershops will be able to accommodate more people. As these changes take effect, please continue following public health practices to protect yourself, other customers, and employees. You can find more details and information about the various phases of the Stay Safe Plan here.
I want to thank everyone who has lent a hand to neighbors and communities in need during these difficult times. It’s moving to see so many people coming together to gather food and supplies and rebuild our communities. This outpouring of generosity is yet another example of the way Minnesotans care about each other. If you’re wondering how you can help, the Star Tribune published a list of opportunities that you might find useful here.
I’d also like to thank our neighbors who are joining our voices and calling for justice. Together, we’ll continue working towards a more just, more equal city and state.
It’s an honor to serve you in the Minnesota House of Representatives.