ROCHESTER, Minn. - At the same time the Chauvin trial jurors were deliberating this week, state lawmakers were in session, discussing police reform and public safety bills.
State Rep. Liz Boldon of Rochester is supporting two bills currently moving through the House: a bill that would prevent law enforcement from using tear gas, chemical weapons, and kinetic energy munitions like rubber bullets on the public; and a bill inspired by Daunte Wright to limit reasons why law enforcement can pull people over.
Boldon recently visited Brooklyn Center and heard reports of tear gas wafting into nearby apartment buildings, with children inside, during protests. As she has a nursing background, she is concerned about the health and safety ramifications of police using less-lethal weapons. "These less lethal munitions, we're seeing that they are not safe either. I spoke to a colleague yesterday whose son is a medic and was hit in the foot with a marker round, and now has a broken foot. Those kinds of things shouldn't be happening," says Rep. Boldon.
Now that the Chauvin trial has reached a guilty verdict on all three charges, Rep. Boldon says she's feeling relieved, but that the system is still broken. "The goal isn't necessarily to have more guilty verdicts. The goal is to be sure that Black people are not being killed, and that we are investing in Black communities, and that everyone across our state has the ability to be safe and cared for and thrive, that's the work that we need to do," she says.
Earlier this month, Minnesota Senate Republicans introduced a bill that would disqualify people who are convicted of illegal conduct while at a protest or rior from receiving state-funded loans, grants, or assistance.