SAINT PAUL – The members of the Minnesota Legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus issued the following statement in response to Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka’s comments regarding criminal justice reform and the upcoming special session:
“We express our extreme disappointment in Senator Gazelka’s comments during his June 5th media availability in which he stated criminal justice reform legislation will not be considered during the upcoming special session.
“Our proposed reforms in response to the death of Mr. George Floyd — an act that has brought Minnesotans of all races and cultures together to express their refusal to accept that inhumanity and has shocked citizens across our nation and indeed, the world — are the result of a great deal of work with numerous community members, reform experts, and multiple stakeholders both in and outside of law enforcement. These reforms are important, deeply needed and have been well researched and well thought out.
“We believe Minnesotans want us to act boldly and with urgency. They also know better than to accept Sen. Gazelka’s disingenuous attempt to paint our collective desire for a better way to advance public safety as merely a ‘Minneapolis problem.’ They know this is a systemic issue that harms neighborhoods across our state and our country. We join our fellow Minnesotans in rejecting Sen. Gazelka’s obstruction to ending police brutality and impeding ways to create true change.
“If criminal justice reform is not included in this special session, then we do not wish to have a special session at all. It is time to break down structural racism and fundamentally reshape how law enforcement interacts with our communities to ensure there can be accountability and justice. We can’t wait any longer.”
The People of Color & Indigenous (POCI) Caucus includes Reps. Jamie Becker-Finn (42B), Aisha Gomez (62B), Hodan Hassan (62A), Kaohly Her (64A), Mary Kunesh-Podein (41B), Fue Lee (59A), Alice Mann (56B), Carlos Mariani (65B), Rena Moran (65A), Mohamud Noor (60B), Ruth Richardson (52B), Samantha Vang (40B), Jay Xiong (67B), Tou Xiong (53B), and Sens. Melisa Franzen (49), Foung Hawj (67), Jeff Hayden (62), Bobby Joe Champion (59), and Patricia Torres Ray (63).