SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Thursday, April 22, the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training Board is scheduled to consider reforms to protect Minnesotans’ First Amendment rights. Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL – Saint Paul), Chair of the House Public Safety & Criminal Justice Reform Committee, urges community members to share their support for the new policies regarding law enforcement’s response to public assemblies.
“Under the United States Constitution, members of the public have the right to assemble and make their voices heard on issues important to them. Members of the news media similarly have a right to document events taking place in our state, and to do so with their human rights and human dignity being recognized,” Rep. Mariani said. “The POST Board’s new Advisory Council, that is part of the structural reforms we put in place last summer to ensure that citizen voices are shaping how law enforcement can best serve all Minnesotans, has brought forth these proposals to safeguard these constitutional rights. At this crucial moment of communities gathering to protest deadly encounters with law enforcement, the POST Board can help build trust between institutions and our communities by considering this issue, and I hope people will join me in urging the POST Board to adopt these critical reforms.”
One measure would require peace officers to follow their own local policies for public assembly response or face licensure action. The board will also consider a proposal to – in collaboration with community organizations – create a model policy in response to public assemblies and require law enforcement agencies to adopt a similar policy by March 2022. The proposals come from legislation authored by Rep. Mariani to fund the SAFE (State Aid for Emergencies) Account to assist local governments with response to unplanned or extraordinary public safety events. Tragically, no Republican House members voted for the bill leaving the state unable to address the apparent abuses we recently witnessed in demonstrations related to the recent killing of an African American citizen by law enforcement.
Members of the public can share their written testimony by emailing it to Abby Brown, (email@example.com), the POST Board Office & Administrative Specialist, by 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 21. Additionally, the Minneapolis NAACP has a petition and the Council on Minnesotans of African Heritage has a letter available for signature.