A jury in Hennepin County this week found former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin guilty on three charges in the murder of George Floyd: second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin is currently imprisoned and awaiting sentencing, which is expected to happen in about eight weeks.
Senate DFLers are grateful that Chauvin was held accountable for his actions and remain focused on delivering needed police reforms to ensure that every Minnesotan – regardless of race, zip code, or economic status- makes it home safely at the end of the day.
Senate Republicans have stated their intent to hold hearings of some sort on public safety sometime before the end of session, tentatively next week. There has been no communication about what bills may be heard, who will be testifying, or really any indication about what Senate Republicans intend to accomplish at these hearings. The Republican Majority Leader has said that the Republicans may or may not pass any sort of police reform this session and at this point they simply want to listen.
Following the passage of a limited, policing reform bill last summer, Senate Republicans promised to continue working on the issue. Despite that promise, Senate Republicans have not introduced or heard any policing reform bills this session, even though Senate DFLers have introduced nearly two dozen bills on various reform proposals.
Black and Indigenous Minnesotans and other Minnesotans of color are killed by police at a disproportional rate. We know that a traffic stop for something as benign as an air freshener hanging from a rear view mirror or expired vehicle tabs can turn deadly- especially for people of color. We also know that we must do the hard work to bring transformational reforms to our criminal justice and policing systems. Senate DFLers have done and continue to do this work. Senate Republicans must come to the table to do this work, before yet another person of color is lost to the systemic racism present in our systems. We have time before the end of session to pass the reforms needed, if Senate Republicans are willing.