Governor Walz Announces Next Steps in MN’s Response to George Floyd’s Death
MN Governor Walz to Announce Next Steps in State’s Response to George Floyd’s Death
[ST. PAUL, MN] – Today, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, Governor Tim Walz announced next steps in the state’s response to the death of George Floyd.
Governor Walz Update:
- Saw peaceful protests across the city Monday. “Beautiful interactions on the state Capitol.” MN National Guard took care of vehicles that were not protesters.
- Thousands gathered in front of governor’s residence.
- State Patrol, St. Paul police and MN National Guard set up tents to help protesters today, hand out water since it’s such a hot day.
- We owe Terrence Floyd, younger brother of George Floyd, and the Floyd family an “immense debt of gratitude” for encouraging peaceful protests and necessary change.
- “We don’t get any credit if we listen and don’t do something about it.”
- “We are not going to restore peace on our streets by having curfews in place all the time.” Walz says peace will happen by addressing “systemic issues.”
- Talked to countless officers. Officers he spoke with say they were “sickened to the core by what they witnessed,” Walz said.
- “Being black should not be a death sentence,” especially when in police
- Walz says his administration will use every tool at his disposal to address systemic racism.
- Minnesota Department of Human Rights has filed a commissioner’s charge of discrimination and will launch a civil rights investigation into Minneapolis Police Department. Will review MPD polices, practices and procedures over last 10 years toward people of color. First time this has ever been done.
- This effort is only step of many steps to come to restore trust with communities of color. “This will not go away with tough talk.”
Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan:
- “The murder of George Floyd is a tragedy.” “It should have never happened.”
- Let’s be clear this tragedy “does not exist in isolation.”
- “All of us agree that hate and discrimination should not be part of the fabric of this great state,” said Flanagan. “But the grief and anger of this past week did not emerge from a vacuum. This is about a culture that continues to go unchecked. We can and must choose to do better. George Floyd, and the state as a whole, deserves this of us.”
- This problem does not exist from a “few bad actors” but a culture that went unchecked.
- The civil rights investigation will look into cases over last 10 years.
- Communities have been asking for structural change of MPD for years.
Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero:
- “George Floyd should be alive. He deserved to live a life full of dignity and joy,” said Lucero. “Community leaders have been asking for structural change for decades. They have fought for this and it is essential that we acknowledge the work and commitment of those who have paved the path to make today’s announcement possible.”
- Under Minnesota Human Rights Act, it’s illegal for a police officer to discriminate against someone because of their race.
- The Minnesota Human Rights Act is a “powerful tool,” one of the strongest human rights acts in the country, she said.
- Minnesota has some of the worst racial disparities across the country: education, employment housing, criminal justice system, says Lucero.
- Encourages anyone who has further information or experiences with MPD that can assist MDHR, to submit information to Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone 651.539.1100
Justin Terrell, Executive Director, Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage:
- Deaths of black men involving Twin Cities law enforcement: Terrence Franklin, Jamar Clark, Philando Castile, George Floyd
- This is a systemic problem created for the people that needs to be fixed by the people, says Terrell.
- Need to make changes to POST Board that governs the licensing of officers.
Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington:
- I’ve been a cop for 40 years, created working group over last year to prevent tragedies such as the Floyd case. Working group “highlighted the need for change.”
- He says police officers “don’t want to work in a flawed system.”
- The Department of Public Safety is 100 percent behind civil rights investigation.
- The curfew “has really helped us keep the peace.” About 66 arrested in Hennepin County.
- Did collect number of weapons, confiscated at least 13 guns last night, shows why curfew was in place, said Harrington.
- Says 3 or 4 drivers rammed squad cars last night, calls it a new tactic against officers. None of the officers were seriously hurt, said Harrington.
- On calls and complaints about fires: 87 fires in last five days, said Harrington.
- A working task force is determining “common threads” of the fires. “We know so many of those fires were deliberately set.”
- Recognizes the pain of business owners: “It was your life that you saw go up in smoke,” not just a building or stuff.
- Curfews in place for another night in multiple cities across Hennepin County. 10 p.m. – 4 a.m.
Q&A Session & Notes
- Walz: The anxiety people are feeling from COVID-19 and the George Floyd death and aftermath “is unbearable.”
- How the process works? Lucero: MDHR enforces Minnesota Human Rights Act. This looks at systemic issues across the board. “This is very much the work we do every day.” A charge of discrimination is filed. A neutral investigator is assigned to case. Determination is made whether there’s discrimination under law. Work through the process to determine results quickly. Process is similar to hundreds of cases it investigates, but this one involves the state’s largest police department.
- How is this going to be different? What will be the outcome? Walz: This one is different “because of the concrete things that will be put in place.”
- Lucero: Our hope is that we can do some quick changes, but also make systemic change
- Chicago also worked on police reform like this, Lucero said. Chicago PD entered into a consent decree.
- “We must move quickly right now,” said Lucero.
- Wants to get to a consent decree, which is something that will result in the real change. Many details to a consent decree–it’s a long process and enforced by the courts. This is not a report, this will require change enforced by court action, says Lucero.
- This investigation is coming externally (outside the MPD), because of the need to change. “This is going to get done. The public has demanded it,” said Walz
- Served civil rights charge to MPD at 1 p.m. Lead investigator is a former police officer. Investigation into the systemic issues will cover next couple months.
- MDHR will also look at crowd control polices in MPD which haven’t been looked at for quite some time.
- On I-35W truck driver incident. Don’t see state as “being culpable” for not getting barriers set up in time before protest on I-35W bridge when trucker came through. Truck driver released from custody. DPS says difficult to get traffic stopped before problems occur. Looking back, preferred to have roads closed much sooner. “Did best we could to get roads shut down” when thousands of people left U.S. Bank stadium for I-35W.
- What are examples of quick changes? Terrell: “There’s a lot.” Didn’t have a list off the top of his head. Need more civilians on POST Board. “There needs to be an integrity standard.” Reforms mentioned on The Marshall Project. Mentioned one officer had 19 complaints against him, but still had a badge and a gun.
- What about bills from legislature in a special session to address systemic issues? Flanagan: “The most important thing that leaders can do right now is to listen,” specifically from communities of color. “If we don’t take action this session,” says Flanagan, “I don’t see how we can move forward as a state at all.”