SAINT PAUL, Minn. (May 30, 2020) — Minn. State Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-65B) held a Virtual Town Hall Meeting Saturday to discuss solutions in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.
Mariani, the chair of the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Division, was joined by Rep. Rena Moran (DFL-65A) and leaders of community organizations to share perspectives, answer questions about the killing, and discuss the next steps for the Legislature to address this crisis.
“Justice for the officers who killed George Floyd is one step toward healing, but we need to accelerate our efforts to address the systemic racism that people in our communities experience every single day,” Mariani said. “The solutions we will be putting forward soon are aimed at increasing accountability, improving trust, and removing anxiety people of color feel when they interact with law enforcement.”
Moran, chair of the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus of the Minnesota Legislature, said it was “inexcusable” that young black men must grow in fear that they might face the same fate as George Floyd, Philando Castile, Mike Brown, Eric Garner and others who have lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement.
“While we work toward justice for George Floyd, we have the capacity to work toward the systemic change our communities so desperately need,” Moran said.
A diverse group of community advocates joined in the conversation in providing advice to lawmakers including Justin Terrill, Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage; Hollies Winston, Metropolitan Economic Development Association; Elliot Butay, NAMI Minnesota; Miah Ulysse, Wilder Foundation’s Community Equity Program, and other community-based groups. Strong voices for holding police officers accountable and creating new ways to provide public safety in partnership with community groups was shared, as was the expectation that legislators act promptly to reform policing when they reconvene on June 12.
Mariani said that House DFL lawmakers will soon announce a package of legislation that will include, but is not limited to, measures focusing on:
- Changing how Minnesota prosecutes and investigates deaths arising from police use of force to ensure full accountability.
- Reforming the use-of-force standard required of police officers — to expect such use affirms and respects the sanctity of life.
- Reforming policing standards – to expect policing procedures are of the highest quality and are subject to public accountability.
- Innovating how we promote public safety by supporting strong partnerships between law enforcement and community-based experts and intervention practices.
- Supporting people with trauma arising from deadly police interactions, including both the families harmed by such encounters and the police experiencing trauma from carrying out their general duties.
“Yesterday’s arrest of Derek Chauvin was a step, but only a first step,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “The Minnesota House of Representatives — led by Public Safety Chair Carlos Mariani and our members of the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus — will be pursuing needed police and criminal justice reforms. We have heard the cries for justice in the past; we hear the cries for justice now, and we will be doing everything in our power to change the law to bring about the systemic change that is needed.”
“We need to restore safety to our cities. We need to rebuild. And we need to address the systemic racism of our criminal justice system,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “Dismantling structural racism in our society won’t happen overnight, but we have to work together to create positive change and stop perpetuating a system that targets people of color.”
Video of the Town Hall can be accessed on Rep. Mariani’s Facebook Page.