By Robert Haider
At TakeAction Minnesota we believe in a future where each and every person is free to live in joy. We believe in just, caring communities where we can all be free. And we believe that to reach those goals, it takes a multiracial commitment to defend Black lives and build a brighter future for all of us because we know our liberation is tied together.
Actions taken by the legislature alone will not achieve that future, but legislative action is a prerequisite to meaningful change.
That is why we support the House Public Safety omnibus bill.
While the bill is not perfect, it includes a number of critical provisions to improve the health of our communities while adding transparency and accountability for law enforcement. Among numerous of changes to current law, the bill will:
- Establish civilian oversight on law enforcement;
- Prohibit police officers from affiliating with, supporting, or advocating for white supremacist groups;
- Require law enforcement agencies to report the types and numbers of complaints filed against officers;
- Limit so-called “pretextual stops,” which are used by police to pull over a disproportionate number of drivers who are Black and people of color;
- Limit no-knock search warrants to cases involving murder in the first degree, hostage taking, kidnapping, terrorism, and human trafficking;
- Provide $10 million per year for grants to community organizations working to prevent crime, with BIPOC-led organizations in mind;
- Eliminate the statutes of limitations in cases involving an alleged sexual assault by a police officer or an act by a police officer that results in a wrongful death.
Our communities have the right to live and protest without being terrorized by a militarized police force. The state’s use of force against Minnesotans exercising their first amendment rights, together with the militarization of our cities in response to police violence is wrong, traumatizing, and adding to the public health crisis of COVID, police brutality, and systemic racism.
House Republicans, however, have decided that any amount of accountability for law enforcement is unacceptable. Here are just a few of the amendments to the Public Safety omnibus bill that they have offered, as well as the member who introduced it:
- Make it easier to justify the killing of another person during a declared state of emergency (Demuth);
- Provide a right to carry a firearm, removing the current requirement for a permit (Kiel);
- Allow pretextual stops to continue unabated (Petersburg);
- Add criminal liability for anybody that “recruits, trains, aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with” those protesting so-called “critical infrastructure,” including pipelines (Novotny);
- Require the state to establish a training to respond to active school shooters while allowing teachers and school employees to carry firearms on school grounds (Lucero);
- Prohibit local units of government from decreasing the number of police officers while prohibiting them from replacing police officers with non-police public safety officials (Grossell);
- Take the $10 million allocated to community organizations working to prevent crime and give it to law enforcement instead (Grossell).
The last year in Minnesota has been filled with grief, action, organizing community, and calls for change. The House Public Safety bill will bring about some change. These amendments maintain the status quo at best, and in some cases will take us backwards.
We deserve better from our elected representatives.
6 Ways to Take Action:
- Support community on the front lines.
- Read and share: So you’re thinking about becoming an abolitionist.
- Deep Canvass on Wednesdays.
- Minneapolis Caucus Training on April 27.
- Sign this petition and this petition.
Tell Minnesota House members to stop ‘Operation Safety Net.’