POCI Caucus Response to Sen. Gazelka’s Comments on Special Session, Criminal Justice Reform

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).

Senator Melisa López Franzen
Melisa López Franzen represents District 49 in the southwest Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Learn more about Sen. Franzen.

Read more news from Sen. Franzen.
Senator Melisa López Franzen on EmailSenator Melisa López Franzen on FacebookSenator Melisa López Franzen on FlickrSenator Melisa López Franzen on Twitter
Senator Jeff Hayden
Jeff Hayden represents District 62, which includes portions of south Minneapolis in Hennepin County in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Read more news from Sen. Hayden.
Senator Jeff Hayden on EmailSenator Jeff Hayden on FacebookSenator Jeff Hayden on FlickrSenator Jeff Hayden on Twitter
Senator Bobby Joe Champion
Bobby Joe Champion represents District 59, which includes portions of downtown and north Minneapolis in Hennepin County. He is also an attorney.

Learn more about Sen. Champion.

Read more news from Sen. Champion.
Senator Bobby Joe Champion on EmailSenator Bobby Joe Champion on FacebookSenator Bobby Joe Champion on Flickr
Senator Patricia Torres Ray
Patricia Torres Ray represents District 63, which includes portions of southeastern Minneapolis and eastern Richfield in Hennepin County in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Learn more about Sen. Torres Ray.

Read more news from Sen. Torres Ray.
Senator Patricia Torres Ray on EmailSenator Patricia Torres Ray on Flickr
Senator Foung Hawj
Foung Hawj represents District 67, which includes the east side of Saint Paul in Ramsey County in the central Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Learn more about Sen. Hawj.

Read more news from Sen. Hawj.
Senator Foung Hawj on EmailSenator Foung Hawj on FacebookSenator Foung Hawj on Flickr