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George Floyd's death is sparking calls for the Minnesota Legislature to remove racial inequities from the criminal justice system in the state where he died.

Posted: Jun 10, 2020 12:31 PM
Updated: Jun 10, 2020 2:54 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The death of George Floyd is sparking calls for the Minnesota Legislature to remove racial inequities from the criminal justice system in the state where he died and to aid neighborhoods damaged in unrest that followed.

But it’s not clear yet how far lawmakers will go when they reconvene in a special session Friday, given that Republicans who control the Senate have been cool to major changes. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said his top priority instead will be trying to terminate the emergency executive powers that he contends Democratic Gov. Tim Walz abused while responding to both the coronavirus and the sometimes violent protests that spread worldwide from Minneapolis.

That hasn’t sat well with Democratic lawmakers who want change now in response to the death of Floyd, who died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into the handcuffed black man's neck for several minutes even after Floyd stopped moving and pleading for air.

“Black folks are sick and tired of literally suffering from people telling them to wait until the moment is right,” said Senate Assistant Minority Leader Jeff Hayden, an African American whose district was the site of the encounter.

Democratic lawmakers and governors in several states, including Wisconsin, New Jersey, Arizona and Oregon, are hoping to harness the anger over Floyd’s death to remake law enforcement, including new restrictions on the use of force. A proposal in Colorado would require departments to compile civilian demographic data in use-of-force cases and allow citizens to file lawsuits against police officers for misconduct. In Pennsylvania on Monday, black Democratic lawmakers displayed a Black Lives Matter banner while demanding movement on proposals to ban chokeholds, improve tracking of officers who have engaged in misconduct, and expand access to police video.

In Minnesota, Walz is expected to call a special session as he extends the peacetime state of emergency that he declared as the coronavirus started to gain a foothold in his state. Minnesota law requires him to call lawmakers back to the Capitol when he extends those powers when the Legislature is not in session. Republican lawmakers say Walz has governed by fiat instead of involving them in the decision-making.

Walz was scheduled to discuss his agenda for increasing police accountability at a news conference Wednesday.

The bicameral People of Color and Indigenous Caucus has already offered a long slate of ideas that would stand a good chance of winning House approval, and they’re pressuring Senate Republicans into taking them up.

During a news conference Monday, Hayden said proposals most likely to advance include modifying use-of-force standards, prioritizing the sanctity of life, codifying the duty of police to intervene when they see another officer using excessive force, lifting the state’s ban on cities imposing residency requirements for officers, banning “warrior” use-of-force training for officers and banning chokeholds. Minneapolis has already adopted some of those changes in an agreement with the state human rights department.

“Minnesota needs to lead the nation in race reconciliation,” Gazelka said at a news conference Friday. "This is an opportunity that comes around once in a generation, and what are we going to do with that?"

But the closest he came to offering concrete proposals was saying that a stalled public construction borrowing bill that's expected to be debated during the special session should include some sort of relief for the inner cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, including damaged small businesses. He spoke in only general terms about criminal justice and educational equity issues, and suggested that big changes may have to wait.

A bonding bill needs a three-fifths majority in both chambers, and Hayden has threatened to withhold Senate Democratic votes unless lawmakers agree on addressing racial inequities, giving his party some leverage.

“Minnesota, and America, is watching to see what our first step will be,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent, of Woodbury. "We have the opportunity to set the bar high and lead by example, not to tiptoe around this issue of racial injustice.”

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 915942

Reported Deaths: 9606
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1786832038
Ramsey739711046
Dakota67683587
Anoka64112577
Washington40545359
Stearns33631279
St. Louis29591409
Scott25994186
Wright25957217
Olmsted22339130
Sherburne19000127
Carver1670669
Clay12104105
Blue Earth1147970
Rice11451138
Crow Wing11213123
Chisago995379
Kandiyohi9815108
Otter Tail9813127
Benton9033125
Beltrami816997
Goodhue811798
Douglas7875101
Itasca772299
Mower733449
McLeod713084
Winona710258
Isanti700783
Steele685731
Morrison672879
Becker628574
Polk603187
Freeborn561246
Carlton546974
Mille Lacs532479
Lyon528461
Nobles525054
Nicollet522460
Pine515043
Cass501253
Todd492843
Brown470759
Le Sueur459734
Meeker433458
Martin386544
Wabasha375510
Waseca374333
Dodge361112
Hubbard355249
Roseau316231
Fillmore305315
Wadena302940
Redwood281445
Houston272017
Renville268451
Faribault258233
Sibley252317
Pennington252130
Kanabec250136
Cottonwood230132
Aitkin222450
Chippewa220542
Pope207410
Watonwan198020
Yellow Medicine188023
Rock177729
Koochiching176725
Swift173123
Stevens167511
Jackson161016
Clearwater158020
Marshall153522
Murray151811
Pipestone149729
Lake132924
Lac qui Parle123025
Wilkin121116
Mahnomen106014
Norman10509
Grant101510
Big Stone9485
Lincoln8805
Kittson73223
Red Lake71410
Traverse6056
Unassigned545124
Lake of the Woods5265
Cook3071

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 525758

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk81677809
Linn32838430
Scott27126295
Black Hawk22334382
Woodbury20736263
Johnson20150108
Dubuque18996243
Pottawattamie16215214
Dallas15573115
Story1398059
Warren8637107
Cerro Gordo8141125
Clinton7928115
Webster7419124
Des Moines7153106
Marshall675494
Muscatine6717117
Wapello6546145
Jasper630591
Sioux622477
Lee5977106
Marion567697
Buena Vista503449
Plymouth493388
Henry427155
Benton414760
Jones413564
Bremer403873
Boone397042
Washington395464
Carroll373355
Mahaska372366
Crawford355647
Jackson324047
Dickinson317555
Buchanan312743
Delaware303255
Clay297636
Kossuth293477
Fayette290356
Hardin289253
Tama282878
Page276133
Wright270050
Cedar269527
Winneshiek267744
Hamilton262757
Floyd261049
Clayton252360
Poweshiek242043
Harrison240979
Madison237425
Butler237346
Cass235667
Iowa234336
Jefferson228544
Mills225330
Hancock222840
Winnebago222339
Cherokee217347
Appanoose210157
Lyon209842
Allamakee209456
Calhoun199519
Shelby199542
Union197141
Humboldt188231
Franklin188031
Grundy186137
Chickasaw184522
Mitchell184343
Emmet180146
Louisa178653
Sac175626
Guthrie169338
Clarke163629
Montgomery163146
Keokuk152639
Palo Alto152332
Howard150624
Monroe144340
Ida134141
Greene128818
Davis126825
Lucas126127
Monona124940
Worth12309
Pocahontas122125
Adair118239
Osceola105718
Decatur104813
Taylor100914
Fremont98913
Van Buren95922
Wayne86125
Ringgold78429
Audubon77617
Adams5869
Unassigned500
Rochester
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Mason City
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Albert Lea
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Austin
Partly Cloudy
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Charles City
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