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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL)

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RELEASE: Rep. Mariani, community leaders hold Town Hall to discuss police violence prevention

Saturday, May 30, 2020

SAINT PAUL – This afternoon, Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL – Saint Paul) held a Virtual Town Hall Meeting to discuss solutions in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Rep. Mariani, the chair of the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Division, was joined by Rep. Rena Moran (DFL – Saint Paul) and leaders of community organizations to share perspectives, answer questions about the killing, and discuss the next steps for the Legislature to address this crisis.

“Justice for the officers who killed George Floyd is one step toward healing, but we need to accelerate our efforts to address the systemic racism that people in our communities experience every single day,” said Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL – Saint Paul), chair of the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Division. “The solutions we will be putting forward soon are aimed at increasing accountability, improving trust, and removing anxiety people of color feel when they interact with law enforcement.”

“It’s inexcusable that young black men must grow in fear that they might face the same fate as George Floyd, Philando Castile, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, or anyone else who has lost their life at the hands of law enforcement,” said Rep. Rena Moran (DFL – Saint Paul), and chair of the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus of the Minnesota Legislature. “While we work toward justice for George Floyd, we have the capacity to work toward the systemic change our communities so desperately need.”

A diverse group of community advocates joined in the conversation in providing advice to lawmakers including Justin Terrill of the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage, Hollies Winston of the Metropolitan Economic Development Association, Elliot Butay of NAMI Minnesota, Miah Ulysse of the Wilder Foundation’s Community Equity Program and various other community-based groups. Strong voices for holding police officers accountable and creating new ways to provide public safety in partnership with community groups was shared, as was the expectation that legislators act promptly to reform policing when they reconvene on June 12.

Soon, Rep. Mariani and House DFL lawmakers will announce a package of legislation that will include, but is not limited to, measures focusing on:

  • Changing how Minnesota prosecutes and investigates deaths arising from police use of force to ensure full accountability.
  • Reforming the use-of-force standard required of police officers — to expect such use affirms and respects the sanctity of life.
  • Reforming policing standards – to expect policing procedures are of the highest quality and are subject to public accountability.
  • Innovating how we promote public safety by supporting strong partnerships between law enforcement and community-based experts and intervention practices.
  • Supporting people with trauma arising from deadly police interactions, including both the families harmed by such encounters and the police experiencing trauma from carrying out their general duties.

“Yesterday’s arrest of Derek Chauvin was a step, but only a first step,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “The Minnesota House of Representatives — led by Public Safety Chair Carlos Mariani and our members of the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus — will be pursuing needed police and criminal justice reforms. We have heard the cries for justice in the past; we hear the cries for justice now, and we will be doing everything in our power to change the law to bring about the systemic change that is needed.” 

“We need to restore safety to our cities. We need to rebuild. And we need to address the systemic racism of our criminal justice system,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “Dismantling structural racism in our society won’t happen overnight, but we have to work together to create positive change and stop perpetuating a system that targets people of color.”

Video of the Town Hall can be accessed on Rep. Mariani’s Facebook Page.