For over a year, the whole world has watched Minnesota where Black men have been brutally killed by police again and again. 

This year, the Minnesota House of Representatives heard over 100 police reform measures and included 12 substantive proposals in its public safety budget. Yet even though Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R – East Gull Lake) promised to hold hearings on police reform legislation after Daunte Wright was killed by police in April, he never followed through.

As a result of the Senate intransigence, the Public Safety budget deal accomplished very little in the way of police accountability. State law still prohibits civilian oversight of police. There are no new safeguards to limit police contact for minor vehicle equipment violations or expired license tabs. And there are no prohibitions on white supremacist-affiliated police.

There are however a few small but significant measures. These include collecting data to detect problem police, limiting no-knock warrants and authorizing “sign and release” warrants so that people who have missed a court date are not automatically brought into custody. The bill makes other important steps forward to protect children from being shackled in court, protect survivors of sexual assault, and other measures.  There’s a good summary here.

In addition, Governor Walz announced plans to increase transparency for state police-involved body camera footage and $15 million of funding for community violence prevention.

But because of Senate obstructionism, police accountability and true public safety for all Minnesotans was left behind in favor of divisive, race-baiting politics. 

“To call this disappointing is an understatement. We have a real problem with racism and white supremacy in the police force, and this bill does nothing to solve that. We need real tools to hold police accountable and we’ll keep pushing at all levels to make that happen,” said Brian Fullman, Founder and Lead Organizer of the Barbershops and Black Congregations Cooperative, a project of ISAIAH.