Today, the Minnesota Board of Pardons, which consists of the Governor, Attorney General, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, granted the state's first posthumous pardon to Max Mason, who was wrongfully convicted in connection with the lynching of three innocent black men in Duluth. Governor Walz noted that the pardon was 100 years overdue, and acknowledged importance of grappling with Minnesota's history of racism.
The Minnesota Historical Society has informational resources and is planning online events related to the Duluth Lynchings, which occurred this week in 1920. This is a reminder that injustices – like what happened to George Floyd – aren’t new, and pain and trauma has existed for generations.
Following a proclamation from Governor Tim Walz, the Minnesota Legislature convened in special session today at noon. Among other priorities, my colleagues and I in the House will work to reach consensus on items unfinished in the regular session, and enact criminal justice reforms following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Specifically, House DFLers are focused on these major areas:
- getting financial assistance to local governments and small businesses to deal with the impact of COVID-19
- completing unfinished business from the regular session, including passing a Jobs and Local Projects bill (I’ll be fighting for 3rd Street/Kellogg Bridge’s inclusion)
- enacting legislation on police accountability and criminal justice reform, and rebuilding communities that have suffered property damage.
Economic Relief for Businesses
As I write this, I’m pleased to report our first order of business today was approving legislation that to deliver $62.5 million in grants for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill – which includes $60 million from the federal CARES Act – focuses on Minnesota’s smallest businesses, many of which are not as well-connected with private banks, and that were required to operate at 50 percent capacity or less as of May 18.
If you would like to help eastside business owners to rebuild their storefronts, restock inventory, and reopen their businesses, you can contribute to the Eastside Business Assistance Fund. 100% of the funds raised will be used to directly support businesses. Priority will be given to immigrant and POC-owned businesses and those most impacted.
The Eastside Business Assistance Fund is a group consisting of residents, community organizations, business associations, and philanthropic partners including the other media group, EastSide Area Business Association, Payne Arcade Paba, Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center and more. If you are an eastside business owner that sustained damage, a link will be available soon to apply.
Police Reform and Accountability
This special session also gives us the opportunity to pass needed racial justice & police accountability legislation that has been led by People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) legislators and community members--The Minnesota Police Accountability Act 2020. This package will reform accountability, reclaim community oversight, and re-imagine public safety. Tomorrow, the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee will hold an in-depth hearing to review and vet these proposals:
• Data Practices Modifications for Peace Officers
• Retroactive Repeal of Statutes of Limitations
• Warrior Training Prohibited
• Choke Hold Ban
• Duty to Intercede
• Police Residency Reform
• Data Collection and Regulatory Reform/etc.
• Arbitration Reform
• Law Enforcement Oversight Council Reform
• Use of Force Reform
• Prosecutorial Reform
• Investigatory Reform
• Cash Bail
• Public Safety Peer Counseling Debriefing
• Police Officer Critical Incident Review
• Community Led Public Safety
• Mental Health Training
• Autism Training
• Restore the Vote
If you would like to testify, please sign up with the committee staff. Jason Chavez can be reached at Jason.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food Pick-Up Event- June 17
The Southeast St. Paul Community Organization, the Sanneh Foundation, and St. Paul Public Schools is hosting a food pick-up event next Wednesday, June 17 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. at Harding High School. If you or someone you know could use a meal, fresh produce and groceries will be available for drive-by pick-up. Check out the flyer below for more details.