St. Paul, Minn.— Senator Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis) released the following statement in response to Senate Republicans’ complete disregard of concerns and ideas from the People of Color and Indigenous people (POCI) caucus in pushing through a reform package that ignores racial inequities and inherent issues present in our criminal justice system.
“Today was a disheartening day in the Minnesota Senate. Senate Republicans didn’t listen to Black people and people of color, didn’t compromise and consider our floor amendments to make the bills stronger, and didn’t even consider transformational legislation to change the structural racism that contributed to the deaths of Black men and women. Instead, Republicans bullied their way through their package of weak reforms that will do very little to protect the people of my community.
We are calling for transformational legislation to change the structural racism that has contributed to the deaths of black men and women in our communities. Our voices deserve to be heard. Our ideas deserve to be considered. It is a sad day for Minnesota when a white group of rural men decide what’s ‘best’ for Black and Brown folks, and people of color.
I offered an amendment today on the use of excessive force by the police. The legislation goes to the very core of some of the problems our communities are experiencing at the hands of the police – the use of excessive force in a police officer encounter instead of training to deescalate a situation. Police officers need to operate from the mindset that deadly force is really a last resort to be used only when they or others are in grave danger. My bill was a common-sense measure that improved their bill by modifying a police officer’s authority to use deadly force – saying deadly should be used judiciously and with respect for human rights, dignity, and for the sanctity of every human life. Sadly, Senate Republicans voted this important amendment down.
Senate Republicans’ actions, such as voting down amendments after amendment offered by members of the POCI caucus, is deeply disappointing. Today was a missed opportunity, lacked accountability and was a veiled attempt to provide cover for Republicans to pass so-called ‘police reforms’ for their elections in the fall — but this package of bills fall short and fails the very people they had the opportunity to protect.”