Minnesota lawmakers pass police accountability package

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz - AP image

The Minnesota Legislature has passed a broad police accountability package that includes a ban on neck restraints like the one that was used on George Floyd before his death in Minneapolis.

Posted: Jul 22, 2020 6:27 AM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Legislature passed a broad slate of police accountability measures early Tuesday that includes a ban on neck restraints like the one that was used on George Floyd before his death in Minneapolis.

The package also bans chokeholds and so-called warrior-style training, which critics say promotes excessive force. It imposes a duty to intercede on officers who see a colleague using excessive force. It changes rules on the use of force to stress the sanctity of life. It makes changes in arbitration rules affecting police unions. Officers will get more training on dealing with people with mental health issues and autism. The measure also creates a new advisory council for the state board that licenses officers.

“This is a really a great bill, but it is only a first step,” Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman, of Brooklyn Park, said at a news conference. “It paves the way for transformational change, but it doesn't bring about transformational change.”

Democratic House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, of Golden Valley, told reporters that Minnesota will “continue to live in a powder keg” as long as its racial inequities in health, education, income and policing continue to exist.

“It is vitally important for the world to see us pass this legislation," Winkler said. "Of course, it's more important to protect the lives of people in our state. But Minnesota, I think, has suffered a severe reputational hit in the world. And it's because we have revealed the truth of our state, which is that we are among the worst when it comes to racial equality. And that cannot continue.”

Passage came after nearly two months of difficult negotiations that followed Floyd's death May 25 and the ensuring unrest that spread around the world over police brutality and racism. The Black man was restrained face down in the street while handcuffed and with three officers holding him down, including a white officer who had a knee to Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes.

The Republican-controlled Senate sent the bill to Democratic Gov. Tim Walz on a 60-to-7 vote early Tuesday before adjourning the special session. The House approved the package 102-29 just before midnight. Walz said he plans to sign it.

“George Floyd’s death brought the need for meaningful police reform into sharp focus for Minnesotans across the state,” the governor said in a statement. “After decades of advocacy by communities of color and Indigenous communities, the bipartisan passage of these measures is a critical step toward justice."

Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, of East Gull Lake, told WCCO Radio that the final package included a “number of really good things” from both parties and was backed by law enforcement groups.

On Tuesday, members of a Minneapolis city charter commission held the second of two public hearings on a proposal to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a new agency, the Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. Last month the Minneapolis City Council unanimously advanced the proposal to change the city's charter, or constitution. Voters would need to approve the amendment.

As at the first hearing last week, many speakers during the first hour of Tuesday's hearing favored letting voters decide the issue in November. Supporters said change is needed to start addressing longstanding complaints of racism and brutality against the Police Department. But opponents called the proposal vague and lacking details.

“I understand the impulse to do something in response to the killing of George Floyd and others, and to be seen by the public as making a change,” said Carleton Crawford, a 27-year resident of Minneapolis. But he said the proposal would mark a “radical change in the way we run our city."

Walz had to call the special session, the second in as many months, to give lawmakers a chance to rescind the emergency powers he’s been using to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The House Democratic majority last week blocked a GOP effort to void those powers, just as it did in June. Lawmakers then turned their attention to policing.

The governor will have to call another special session in mid-August if, as expected, he extends his emergency authority again. And that would give lawmakers another chance to pass one of their main unfinished pieces of business, a public construction package known as a bonding bill. They've been unable to agree on that all year.

The House voted 75-57 in favor of the $1.8 billion package early Tuesday. But bonding bills require a three-fifths majority. That would have required at least six votes from Republicans, who withheld their support in a dispute over Walz's reliance on emergency powers. A business tax break that would have benefited farmers and businesses trying to rebuild from the unrest that Democrats added to the package did not sway the House GOP.

Hortman said the outlook for passing a bonding bill next month is “murky” because the looming campaign season can only make passing it harder.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 92100

Reported Deaths: 2037
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin26264926
Ramsey10635318
Dakota7280125
Anoka5870132
Stearns386524
Washington365255
Scott248733
Olmsted234627
Nobles194316
Blue Earth16326
Wright15537
St. Louis145138
Carver13757
Clay131640
Rice13118
Mower13085
Sherburne111414
Kandiyohi9552
Winona85518
Lyon6614
Waseca5668
Steele5302
Freeborn5293
Benton5223
Nicollet51516
Watonwan5144
Todd4832
McLeod4702
Chisago4661
Crow Wing46418
Le Sueur4464
Otter Tail4074
Beltrami3885
Martin35710
Goodhue3449
Pine3070
Itasca29914
Polk2944
Douglas2782
Isanti2710
Becker2572
Carlton2461
Cottonwood2190
Unassigned21852
Morrison2161
Pipestone21610
Dodge2140
Chippewa2031
Meeker1892
Sibley1893
Brown1822
Wabasha1800
Yellow Medicine1692
Rock1620
Murray1562
Mille Lacs1533
Redwood1511
Cass1423
Jackson1371
Renville1367
Faribault1320
Swift1231
Houston1170
Koochiching1173
Roseau1170
Kanabec1168
Pennington1151
Fillmore1110
Lincoln1050
Stevens941
Pope900
Hubbard881
Aitkin741
Big Stone730
Wadena670
Grant594
Wilkin583
Lake570
Norman520
Marshall501
Lac qui Parle471
Mahnomen461
Red Lake401
Traverse290
Clearwater260
Lake of the Woods211
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 82537

Reported Deaths: 1289
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk15571261
Woodbury517363
Johnson507327
Black Hawk442188
Linn3878109
Story336917
Dubuque298541
Scott287528
Dallas274138
Pottawattamie203338
Buena Vista195912
Marshall176834
Sioux14693
Wapello129657
Webster121314
Clinton109220
Plymouth109120
Muscatine109054
Crawford10425
Cerro Gordo101721
Warren9456
Jasper80232
Des Moines7517
Marion7465
Tama69931
Henry6554
Carroll6505
Lee6137
Wright5701
Dickinson5036
Boone4938
Bremer4757
Washington44911
Louisa42615
Mahaska36819
Delaware3653
Franklin34618
Hamilton3233
Jackson3173
Winneshiek3156
Floyd3103
Clay3094
Benton3021
Hardin2931
Winnebago28413
Lyon2804
Poweshiek2708
Butler2652
Buchanan2621
Clarke2623
Jones2583
Emmet25410
Allamakee2526
Shelby2501
Kossuth2490
Chickasaw2400
Guthrie2406
Clayton2373
Cedar2331
Sac2320
Cherokee2222
Grundy2183
Madison2092
Fayette2052
Iowa1971
Harrison1962
Mitchell1860
Howard1856
Humboldt1833
Calhoun1792
Hancock1772
Mills1731
Palo Alto1720
Pocahontas1562
Lucas1536
Monroe15310
Page1500
Cass1482
Osceola1460
Monona1441
Jefferson1351
Appanoose1293
Taylor1271
Union1263
Davis1224
Van Buren1121
Ida1100
Fremont1040
Worth1040
Keokuk1011
Greene990
Montgomery905
Wayne842
Audubon741
Adair681
Decatur660
Ringgold482
Adams330
Unassigned40
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