Earlier this week, Derek Chauvin was found guilty in the murder of George Floyd. This was one important step toward ensuring accountability for those who are charged to protect and serve but betray the community’s trust. After being killed by a Brooklyn Center Police Officer, Daunte Wright was put to rest yesterday. We still have much work before us to achieve the meaningful change Minnesotans deserve.
Wednesday night, the House approved the Public Safety, Criminal Justice Reform, Judiciary, and Civil Law budget that improves police accountability, includes funding for needed reforms, and lifts up the voices of crime victims. The bill also focuses on reducing bias, decriminalizes poverty, and ensures that every Minnesotan faces equitable treatment under our justice system.
At its core, this bill is about building trust among all of us. By advancing greater police accountability, delivering funding to make reforms possible, and centering equity and the voices of those who’ve experienced crimes, House DFLers are delivering guidance for a public safety system based on human rights that reinforces strong and healthy community life for all Minnesotans. Session Daily has more details available about the legislation.
Human rights also extend to the First Amendment. Members of the public have the right to assemble and make their voices heard on issues important to them, including after their community has experienced trauma. The news media also has the constitutional right to document what’s happening. Recognizing the First Amendment shouldn’t be difficult, but unfortunately, we’ve seen law enforcement too often respond to community protests with an unnecessary level of force.
Mirroring and affirming language in the bill that calls on our law enforcement community to respect our Constitutional First Amendment rights to publicly assemble to have our voices heard on issues we care about - such as the use of deadly force on Black lives - yesterday, the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board agreed to adopt a new statewide model policy – in collaboration with community organizations – to protect those rights.
I testified in support of this initiative, and I’m grateful for the community members who have led for this important change. The proposal was developed by the POST Board’s new Advisory Council, the creation of which was part of structural reforms put in place through my bill from last summer following George Floyd’s murder, to ensure that citizens are shaping how law enforcement can best serve all Minnesotans.
I’m also grateful the POST Board advanced a measure to prohibit members of extremist groups and white supremacists from serving as Minnesota peace officers. Members from these hateful and often violent groups have systematically worked to infiltrate law enforcement, from local police departments up to federal agencies. The House Public Safety Committee I chair included a similar provision from Rep. Cedrick Frazier in our Omnibus Budget bill. At a time when the relationship between many Black, Indigenous, and people of color and law enforcement is strained, this is an important step to help build trust within our communities.
When we think big, we can achieve the meaningful results Minnesotans deserve. To the contrary, if we think small, the status quo systems that have historically failed BIPOC communities will continue to fail. I truly believe our state is better than that, and in the wake of terrible tragedies, we must ensure all Minnesotans – no matter where they live or their race and culture – can experience true public safety.
Please continue to contact me with your ideas, viewpoints, or if I can ever be of assistance. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and my Capitol phone number is 651-224-6647. I also invite you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter. If you have neighbors, coworkers, or friends who you think would be interested in receiving these updates, share this with them and encourage them to subscribe here.
It’s an honor to represent you.