Today, members of the Minnesota Legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus and United Black Legislative Caucus (UBLC) discussed the police shooting of Daunte Wright and actions DFL legislators are proposing to improve accountability for law enforcement, including:
- allowing local governments to establish civilian oversight councils
- banning the alteration, erasure, or destruction of body-worn camera recordings and withholding footage
- prohibiting peace officers from affiliating with white supremacist groups
- providing funding for community organizations working to prevent crime
“We are once again dealing with the trauma of the killing of a Black man by police. It feels like we are taking one step forward, and two steps back,” said Rep. Vang, Chair of the POCI Caucus (DFL – Brooklyn Center). “My city is hurting to see a beloved member of our community killed so recklessly as we are left with an occupied city that is damaged nearly beyond recognition. We cannot keep doing the same things and expect a different result, we must do better to ensure justice for victims and peace for our future.”
Under Chair Mariani, the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee has held 21 public hearings about police reform and accountability, 11 of which occurred in 2021. Senate Republicans have not held a single public hearing about police accountability or reform this year. While lawmakers passed compromise reforms last summer — including a prohibition on “warrior training,” a ban on chokeholds, and requiring the duty to intercede — Senate Republicans blocked House Democrats and Gov. Walz from enacting many more critical reforms, such as enhanced citizen oversight and strengthening the police officer misconduct database.
“While our community is in pain, grieving the loss of yet another Black man in Minnesota, law enforcement groups and so many others across the aisle are playing politics. We’ve held dozens of hearings over the course of the session that were met with resistance and dismissiveness from law enforcement groups and Republican members in both the Senate and the House,” said Rep. Cedrick Frazier (DFL – New Hope), Vice Chair of the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee. “The people of Minnesota deserve and demand a future where community trust is sacred, police officers are held accountable for misconduct, and justice is served. We cannot normalize waking up to a piling list of Black men killed by law enforcement officers.”
The POCI Caucus, UBLC, House DFL, and Senate DFL will continue a strong push to pass these reforms before the 2021 legislative session adjourns in May.