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House health panel lays over bill to fund programs aiding trauma victims

Karen Wells was one of several people testifying Monday in favor of a bill that would establish programs to help trauma victims recover.

She is the mother of Amir Locke, who was killed Feb. 2 by Minneapolis police officers executing a no-knock warrant.

“I don’t even know who to turn to in this long road of grieving that will last the rest of my life,” Wells said.

Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights) sponsors HF2586 aiming to help Wells and others, including their families and heirs, recover from trauma resulting from government-sponsored activities.

The House Health Finance and Policy Committee laid over the bill, as amended, for possible omnibus bill inclusion.

The bill would establish the Emmett Louis Till Victims Recovery Program, named after the 14-year-old African American lynched in Mississippi in 1955, after being accused of offending a white woman in her family’s grocery store. It would be funded at $500,000 in fiscal year 2023.

History books tell the horrible story of Till’s execution, Richardson said, but the violent persecution of African Americans continues today and today’s victims, such as Wells and her family, need help.

“The research is clear that unresolved trauma will impact your future health,” she said.

The Human Services Department would distribute grants “to community-based organizations experienced in providing support and services to victims and families who experienced trauma resulting from government-sponsored activities.”

Some of the health and wellness services would address physical health, mental health, cultural needs, spiritual or faith-based needs, and remembrance and legacy preservation activities.

Wells said the death of her son “has taken me to a place mentally that I don’t understand.” She admits to feeling guilty for going on with normal activities, laughing, smiling or eating a meal.

“People say time heals all wounds, but when it comes to your child, I don’t think you’ll ever be able to be healed.”

Sen. Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-Mpls) sponsors the companion bill, SF2513, which awaits action by the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee.

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