Jun 2, 2020
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz June 2 Press Conference Transcript
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz held a June 2 press conference. He provided updates on the George Floyd protests and efforts to end further violence and looting.
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Tim Walz: (02:13)
Good afternoon. Good afternoon, everyone. Good afternoon, Minnesota. A beautiful early summer day in Minnesota. I just want to give a heartfelt thank you to a lot of people for the peace and the generosity, the kindness and the love that’s been showing on our streets of Minneapolis, St. Paul and across Minnesota over the last several days. And last evening was another example of that. We saw peaceful protests across the city. We saw memorials continue to grow for George Floyd, down on 38th and Chicago. We saw beautiful interactions on the State Capitol. Where out of respect, the National Guard troops there told the protesters out of respect they would go back away to the building and just take care of those vehicles that were out front, which of course they did. Not protestors at that point. Certainly, neighbors and friends and agents of change.
Tim Walz: (03:21)
We saw thousands gathered in front of the beautiful Minnesota Governor’s Residence that my family and I have the privilege of occupying for a short time. The pain of the families that were there was visceral. The anger of a system that seems to continue on. A group of people that know very clearly this isn’t about a broken system. This is about a system that’s functioning absolutely as it was designed. Unfortunately, that’s meant to exclude some from it.
Tim Walz: (03:55)
We have an opportunity today to watch up on the Capitol. And I couldn’t be more proud of this. State Patrol, St. Paul police, National Guard, others up there set up tents for first aid. It’s hot in Minnesota today, and we’ll take it. They’re handing out water. They’re making sure everybody’s taken care of. And they’re interacting with their neighbors, because that’s exactly who they are. And that’s exactly how we have to start seeing them. And I want to give a final thank you of the peace that we were able to see yesterday. Started with a very powerful and emotional message from Terrance Floyd at the site of his brother, George’s death. Terrance’s big brother was killed on that site. And the little brother was there to try and understand. And just a week to this with unimaginable pain, Terrance Floyd stood up proud, stood up strong and told us he expects justice and he expects change. But he expects us to do it with a sense of our community.
Tim Walz: (05:04)
Not with violence, not with fires, not with looting. So on behalf of the people of Minneapolis, St. Paul and all of Minnesota, we owe Terrence Floyd and the Floyd family an immense a debt of gratitude to help bring that message and bring that peace. We also owe them what I heard yesterday. I walked outside my house and it’s very clear. That’s not a place they needed to hear me. And that as some said, “You should listen, but don’t expect to get any credit for listening, if you don’t do something about it. Because we’ve heard it before.” And when they mean, we heard it before, they’re not just even talking in Minnesota, which they certainly are talking about that. But I think all of us come to understand, we’re not going to restore peace on our streets by having a bigger group of National Guard show up.
Tim Walz: (05:56)
We’re not going establish peace on our streets by keeping a curfew in place all the time. We’re going to establish peace on our streets when we address the systemic issues that caused it in the first place. And that is what every voice on the Capitol is saying, that’s what the voices in front of my house are saying, that’s what Terrence Floyd is saying. And that’s what we need to start saying. So whether it was from the colonial period through Jim Crow, it’s still with us. And here in Minnesota and across this country, and now the world, if this is not an inflection point to change that or risk what we’re seeing, this will come back again, if it’s not addressed. This will not go away once the fires are put out and there’s a lull. And I think we’ve seen very clearly, if you can create the space to start doing that, you separate out those who have no time or tolerance for destruction, from those who have no time or tolerance for systemic racism.
Tim Walz: (06:57)
Those are two very different things. And so, I hear you. I’ve listened to community leaders. We together have seen this. City Council members and others, and they’re asking for structural change. Specifically, things that we can deal with. And today I’m here to talk about the structural change that needs to start with the Minneapolis Police Department. And I can tell you this. I have talked to countless officers. I saw them take a knee out of respect in front of my house yesterday. Although, there weren’t a lot of people there happy with them. But they did it because there’s not one of those officers I talked to that wasn’t sickened to the core about what they witnessed. And knowing that when you’re part of an organization, the culture permeates all of us. A culture that allows things to happen. A culture where the public cannot trust.
Tim Walz: (07:47)
And we know that this is systemic, not just in Minneapolis and Minnesota, but it needs to start somewhere. It needs to start where we know things happen. And I know what organizations look like when you’re serving. I have served in some of the finest organizations, whether they were public schools or whether it was in the National Guard. And the leadership and the type of things you’re committed to make a difference. And they can be generational. We know that deeply seeded issues exist. And the reason I know it is we saw the casual nature of the erasing of George Floyd’s life and humanity. We also know by the reaction of the community, they expected nothing to happen. And the reason is because nothing did happen for so many times. I hear, and listen and stood next to mothers who lost their children in this. And say so many times, as I heard Mayor Carter say, I’ve heard others echo.
Tim Walz: (08:50)
Being black should not be a death sentence. And for each and every one of us in law enforcement, you don’t get judged right on the spot. Especially with the finality of being killed in police custody. So Minnesotans, you can expect our administration to use every tool at our disposal to try and deconstruct systemic racism that is generations deep. And as we move forward, we’re going to need to do it with the community. But I think the thing I’m hearing from the protesters is we’re not watching and we don’t care what you say. We care what you do. So today, as a step towards that deconstruction of systemic racism, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights is filing a commissioner’s charge of discrimination to launch a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department. The investigation will review MPDs policies, procedures, and practices over the last 10 years to determine if the department has utilized systemic discriminatory practices towards people of color.
Tim Walz: (09:46)
Minnesota has one of the strongest civil rights laws in the country. It is illegal for police department to discriminate against someone because of their race. This is the first time that the state is launching a civil rights investigation into the systemic discriminatory practices of the largest police department in the state. It is also the only investigation surrounding the killings of George Floyd, focusing on the policies and practices implemented by the Minneapolis Police Department. When the Minnesota Department of Human Rights find civil rights violations, they seek structural change to prevent discrimination from occurring again. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights will also seek an agreement with the Minneapolis Police Department to implement interim measures immediately in advance of longterm measures to address systemic discriminatory practices. This effort is only one of many steps to come in our efforts to restore trust within those communities who have been unseen, unheard and believe that those that are charged to serve and protect, not only don’t do that, they work against them.
Tim Walz: (10:46)
And I say this as a white man who walks through life with pretty much relative ease. I can’t ever know the pain of black community members. But I hear you, I’m listening, and one of the things I need to do is use that ability to change, and use that ability to build coalitions and make this situation that has become intolerable across the nation. That will not go away with tough talk and more people on the streets in uniform. It will go away with a sense of community you’re seeing being displayed up on the State Capitol lawn today with law enforcement and the people that they serve. Seeing themselves as neighbor in the same society and the same opportunities for their children.
Tim Walz: (11:24)
So you’re going to hear from a group of leaders in here. You’re going to hear from Commissioner Rebecca Lucero of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. You’re going to hear from a community leader whose voice booms throughout these issues, in Justin Terrell. And you’re going to hear from someone who has walked with me and has let me see through the eyes of a different perspective. And someone who’s been at the heart of these changes and asking for these systemic changes, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan.
Peggy Flanagan: (12:04)
Good afternoon. And thank you. Thank you, Governor. The murder of George Floyd is a tragedy. It is heartbreaking and it should have never happened. But let’s be clear, it does not exist in isolation. George Floyd, George Floyd’s name joins a too long list of black men and women who have been needlessly killed at the hands of law enforcement across this country. The grief and anger that has torn through our city and through our state did not emerge in a vacuum. It is built on years of injustice. This did not begin with George Floyd, but we can work to end it now. Under the leadership of Commissioner Rebecca Lucero and the Department of Human Rights, our administration has launched a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department. Not just around one case, but an investigation of the past 10 years. What is clear is that tragedies like the one that happened to George Floyd do not emerge from a few isolated bad actors, but from patterns of misconduct. A culture, and this is cultural, a culture that does not hold bad behavior accountable.
Peggy Flanagan: (13:44)
This is not something that we can fix in one day or in one week, but we must pursue meaningful structural change. George Floyd deserves this of us. And every single person who is impacted by this culture deserves this of us. I said this past Saturday that the swell of mourning, and grief, and anger has been just below the surface in our state. And now it has burst into public and national view. Communities have been asking and organizing for structural change of the Minneapolis Police Department for years. Their work has paved the way for what we are launching here today.
Peggy Flanagan: (14:38)
This is one piece of the puzzle to getting justice for George Floyd and all black Minnesotans who have not been served or protected by the Minneapolis Police Department. It is one piece of the puzzle to holding all four officers accountable for George’s murder and changing the culture that made them. A culture that does not value the lives of black Minnesotans. As a light skinned native woman, I grapple daily with my role. And in particular, over the last week, I have grappled with my role as a light skin native woman, but also as Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota, to do everything I can to undo the anti-blackness that lives within our community and within our state.
Peggy Flanagan: (15:40)
This action that we’re taking today is one tangible step forward that is critical to correcting the injustice that plagues us. This problem has been years in the making, but we have an opportunity to seize this moment to make it better. To take a solid first step of-
Peggy Flanagan: (16:03)
To take a solid first step of many, many steps that we must do in each branch of government to deconstruct the system of racism that frankly has always existed in this state. We can and we must, and we must take this moment to change at all. And with that, I’d like to introduce to you Commissioner Rebecca Lucero of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
Rebecca Lucero: (16:44)
Good afternoon. My name is Rebecca Lucero, and I’m the Commissioner for the Department of Human Rights. I just want to start real quick by holding space for all the people that I carry with me here today, all my ancestors, all my community members and leaders who have done the work for generations to create a beloved community. I honor your work, and I join with you in solidarity as we continue to move forward together.
Rebecca Lucero: (17:08)
As the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, my agency is charged with enforcing one of the strongest civil rights laws in the country, the Minnesota Human Rights Act. And today we continue our ongoing work to secure justice by announcing that our department is opening a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department. Under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, it is illegal for a police department to discriminate against someone because of their race.
Rebecca Lucero: (17:38)
When our department finds civil rights violations, we seek structural change. Our investigation will look at the Minneapolis Police Department over the past 10 years to determine if they have utilized systemic discriminatory practices towards people of color. We will review the department’s trainings, policies, procedures, and practices. The death of George Floyd is what launched this investigation. George Floyd should be alive. He deserved to live a life full of dignity and joy.
Rebecca Lucero: (18:08)
What we all know to be true, what Mayor Frey, Mayor Carter, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and countless community members have repeatedly stressed is that what communities of color and indigenous communities are facing today is the direct result of 400 plus years of intentional decisions to create and sustain systems, policies, and processes that have resulted time and time again in systemic discrimination and oppression. Minnesota has some of the worst racial disparities in the country. Say it all the time. And it’s across the board. It’s in housing, employment, education and the criminal justice system. These disparities are rooted in intentional decisions that keep black and brown community members from living full lives, these full lives of dignity and joy.
Rebecca Lucero: (18:59)
That’s why this investigation is different. Unlike the other investigations, which are critically important, this is looking at the system. This is not about holding people personally, criminally liable. This is about systems change.
Rebecca Lucero: (19:18)
Today’s announcement is important, and I need to acknowledge that the call to action for structural change is not new, which has been stressed repeatedly and cannot be stressed enough. Community leaders have been asking for structural change for decades, working for it, bleeding for it and dying for it. They fought for it, and it’s essential that we acknowledge the work and commitment of those who have paved the path to make today’s announcement possible and all of those who will continue to do the work in partnership to make these changes.
Rebecca Lucero: (19:44)
The Minnesota Human Rights Act is a powerful tool. We have this tool in our state intentionally, and it’s there to help address systemic racism and discrimination, and we’re using that tool today, as we do every day to break down policies and practices that lead to illegal discrimination. The law boldly exclaims, “Discrimination threatens the rights and privileges of the inhabitants of the state and menaces the institutions and foundations of democracy.” That was written over 50 years ago, and it still rings true today.
Rebecca Lucero: (20:17)
Hate and discrimination cannot be part of the fabric of this great state. We can and must choose to do better. We’re making this announcement today in part because we need your help. It’s of course, going to take all of us, community, city leadership, police, every single one of us to move forward. This is a moment in time and we have to grasp this.
Rebecca Lucero: (20:40)
If you have any information that can further our investigation, we encourage you to contact us by submitting information on our website. That’s at Minnesota, mn.gov/mdhr, or by calling our office at (651) 539-1100. All of us are called to do everything we can not just to prevent future deaths, but to end the systemic racism that is leading to all of these outcomes throughout Minnesota. We are deeply interconnected, and we need each other. Thank you very much.
Rebecca Lucero: (21:16)
Oh, yes. I’m going to welcome Justin up.
Justin Terrell: (21:24)
Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Justin Terrell. I’m the Executive Director of the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage. We play an advisory role to the Governor and to the legislature on issues that impact African Heritage Community. And I want to commend the Governor and Commissioner Lucero and Lieutenant Governor for taking this action today, because that is exactly what our community needs. We need action. For generations, or actually we have over 150 years of policing in this state with a body of evidence that there are gross violations of the civil rights of black people in the state of Minnesota.
Justin Terrell: (22:05)
And when I think about what our ancestors did with less is disappointing that we have admired this problem for the last 10 years since Michelle Alexander wrote a book. But today, we’re standing here today to take action, and I want to just say that to the community, that this is not the end of the fight. We have so much more work to do. An investigation is great. We called for it. We advised on it, and we still need to make changes to the post board that governs the licensing of officers. We need to take a look at all of the options that we have in front of us. But now’s not the time to give up. Get on the phone and call every single person who represents the area where you live. Make sure they know that this needs to be a priority. You make sure that the Commissioner has the support that they need to deliver on this issue for our community.
Justin Terrell: (23:09)
Terrance Franklin, Jamar Clark, across the river with Philando Castile, George Floyd, [inaudible 00:07:19], and many others. We didn’t have a black lives matter movement to support them before now. That have had their lives taken, and it’s time that we remember them and we honor them with our efforts to fix this systemic problem. I spent a lot of time on the phone with folks from greater Minnesota, pastors who are calling and asking what they can do to help. And I like to ask them about their analysis. And they say to me, ‘This is like a heart and prayer problem, right?” And I want to be clear. My people know how to pray, and we got all kinds of love in our heart. This is a systemic problem created by people, reinforced by people, and that needs to be addressed by the people.
Justin Terrell: (24:09)
I want to say to the nation who may not know a lot about Minnesota is really the only thing you need to know. Nobody appreciates good weather like Minnesotans. We’re locked inside all winter long, and as soon as it gets above 40 degrees, we’re outside in shorts. And why is that? And what does that teach us? It teaches us that if you got an opportunity, you take it. And I expect fully that the Governor, our Commissioner, Lieutenant Governor, all the leadership of this state take full example, take full advantage of this opportunity to transform our policing system in this state. And I invite the nation to watch and support and do what you can. Thank you.
John Harrington: (25:15)
I’m John Harrington. I’m the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. I just want to reflect for just a second before I go into sort of a sitrep of what happened last night on what you just heard. I’ve been a cop for 40 years. I have lived in this system that they’re talking about reforming. I have led for a last year a working group to look into how do we prevent the tragedies that George Floyd was the most recent example of, and I recognize the need for change. That working group that we chaired highlighted the need for change. And the cops I talked to, the cops I’ve worked with since 1977 to date would tell you they want change. They don’t want to work in a flawed system. They don’t want to have to be wearing gas masks. They don’t want to have to be on riot patrol duty. Cops sign up because they want to help their community. Nobody does that from the inside of a squad car racing down a road at mock one to get to another tragedy. You do that face to face, person to person, human to human. So I want you to know that the Department of Public Safety is 100% behind this. The Department of Public Safety sees this as an absolute priority and a need.
John Harrington: (26:59)
I got brought up in a climate of what we would call community policing, and in that climate what I was taught was those ex two words, community and policing, but it starts with community. It has to start with community, and the police have to be in there with them to make this right. We started out last night in community in point of fact, with 2,000 folks at the Governor’s residence. I want to say that watching the pictures of my old department, Todd Axtell’s department now, Saint Paul Police Department taking a knee there warmed my heart. It reminded me of the days out, whether it was Rondo or Cinco or all the different community events that we spent our time together with community. We recognize that not always does the community see us as the friendly officer, friendly that maybe we all think of back from our good old days, but that’s exactly where good cops should be is there with their community. We believe with them, and we cheer with them.
John Harrington: (28:13)
That group moved to the Capitol, and there were folks who made the decision that they wanted to stake out their territory by using civil disobedience to make their point that racism and brutality has to stop. And because we were doing that cooperatively, once again, I got the chance to see my state troopers. I got to see General Jensen’s National Guard guys there, not locked and loaded, not standing post as some rigid soldier, but as human beings standing there with the community, talking to the community, talking and engaging with them because that’s where this all begins. We did make arrests last night. We did have the curfew imposed. The curfew has really helped us keep the peace. That’s what it was there for, and we’re using it to keep the peace. We had about 66 arrested in Hennepin County and another 67,68 in Ramsey County. Most of those were for curfew violations although we did collect a number of weapons from folks last night. The number of weapons we collected, I think we collected 13 guns, highlights that the need for why the curfew was put in place. It allows us to separate those who are there for good purposes, want to have their civil rights recognized, and those who were there for bad purposes, and we’re out there to be that separation between those two. We continued to see a large crowd at the Floyd Memorial, a wonderfully peaceful, joyous group there, joyous in the sense of being together with each other, joyous with the recognition that they could be there and hold each other close and feel like they are okay in that space.
John Harrington: (30:20)
We did have several crashes last night, and it appears to be that may well be a new tactic that we’re seeing. We had, I think, three or four where people rammed squad cars at different times during the night. None of the officers were injured. We made some arrests on some of those cars. As I said, 13 guns were taken off the street. Today, we will recognize that there are several different groups that are exercising their first amendment rights. There’s about two or three thousand folks in 90 degree weather up at the Capitol. If you go up to the Capitol, which I hope you do, what you’ll see up there is you’ll see Saint Paul cops and Minnesota State Patrol, and you’ll see National Guard guys up there, once again, not locked and loaded, not prepared for battle, but handing out water, talking to people, letting folks get close, letting folks come right within their humanity so that they can know that we feel their pain and that we suffer with them.
John Harrington: (31:21)
Our posture today in terms of the operation remains vigilant. You will see high visibility patrols continue to go out there. Combinations of Minnesota National Guard, local police and Minnesota State Patrol and DNR will continue to patrol the streets to try and make sure that bad things don’t happen and that we can respond quickly if they do. We will have our rapid response team still positioned, and we still have our mobile field force teams stood up, although we’ve been quite pleased that over the last couple of days we have not needed to employ hardly any gas at all. We have really seen the temperature change in terms of the kind of protests.
John Harrington: (32:02)
Change in terms of the kind of protests that we’ve been seeing now. We have stood up a new asset. Based on lots of calls and complaints about the fires, I actually asked the State Fire Marshal to give me a list of how many fires we’ve had. There were 87 fires in the last five days. 87 fires is a lot of fires, by the way. We track one or two fires. 87 is an enormous number. And so we pulled together a task force, a working task force of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms out of the federal government, State Fire Marshal out of my office, and then Minneapolis and St. Paul’s fire departments added arson investigators to that unit. Today, they are starting to work that list of fires to try and find where are the commonalities, where are the common criminal threads?
John Harrington: (32:56)
And they are also going out to collect those incendiary devices, those bottles of gasoline that we’ve been hearing stories about but frankly, had not physically gotten our hands on. So we now have folks out there that are picking those up so that we can bring those back. And we’re going to bring those back and we’re going to use those as evidence as we begin to continue this as on the criminal side of the investigation. We know that so many of those fires were deliberately set. That is a crime. It is a crime simply by statute. But if it’s your business that was burned up, it was your little mom and pop grocery store that was burned up, if it was where you worked and it means you’re unemployed today, it was your life you saw go up in smoke, not just property, not just stuff. It was quite literally the end of some business’s life. They may or may not ever be able to rebuild.
John Harrington: (33:55)
So the fire task force has started. We are planning on continuing our operation. I do want to say that the curfew will again be in place from 10:00 PM tonight to 4:00 AM tomorrow. Once again, 10:00 PM tonight to 4:00 AM tomorrow we have the curfew in place. I want to ask you again, help us keep the peace. Stay home, stay close to your loved ones. If you have to stay at your business, I understand that, but stay inside. Let my first responders do our job with those folks that are going to deliberately be out there to create harm. That is what the curfew helps us do. You have done an amazing job, Minnesota. The Twin Cities has done an amazing job of letting first responders get out there and get after this thing in a meaningful way.
John Harrington: (34:50)
I need another night, one more night from you to do this. Because what we’re trying to do, what our objective is, what the Governor tasked me to do was to bring people together to keep peace on the streets. The best way to do that after 40 plus years of copping is community policing. And community policing starts with the community. This task force, this working group, this assemblage of agencies that have been brought together around the riots that happened here, yes, we were very much in emergency response mode when we started. And we can go back there if we have to, but the direction we are going, the direction the commanders are taking us is back to community policing, back to a time when we talked to the community, we worked with the community, and together we keep our community safe. Governor Walz?
Tim Walz: (35:57)
Thank you, Commissioner. Well, thank you, everyone. Powerful, Commissioner [LaShore 00:36:02]. Thank you for your work on this. Lieutenant Governor Justin, thank you. And I think Justin’s words that this window of opportunity opened, it won’t stay open for long. I think as you’re seeing it to go back to where we were, which I think is an important thing. I’ve heard so many people tell me the anxiety they’re feeling from COVID-19 and now this was unbearable, and that children and adults are dreading when the sun was going down. What’s going to happen? Pins and needles. If I watch the news when I wake up in the morning, what happened? And they’re so hoping they can go back, which we want to get to that sense of security as part of community. So you can make the choice to get up in the morning, go for a run, go golfing, spend time with your family, go out to eat, do your job, or whatever. That sense of not feeling anxiety.
Tim Walz: (37:03)
And then I had a lot of communities members tell me, “You know that sense of anxiety you have? I get it driving my car because I’m black. I get pulled over. I have that sense of anxiety all the time in certain situations because how I’m viewed.” So if we stand and say, “Why does this matter to us? Just restore order and everything will be fine.” For some, that is our whole issue here. Until we can make this state, this country, and our society one where that anxiety goes away because everybody feels the same sense of security and the system is there to serve them, that is the only way we prevent this from happening again.
Tim Walz: (37:40)
And I pray to God that no governor in the history of Minnesota from now on ever has to mobilize a force to be on the streets, to put out fires, and to stop what we saw happen. And the only way I’m going to ensure that doesn’t happen for everybody who follows is to take this moment and make the systemic change. That’s one step today. But let me tell you, it is one step of many. With that, questions for anybody up here.
Speaker 3: (38:09)
The civil rights investigations happen federally. Have you been in touch with the Feds-
Tim Walz: (38:12)
I’m going to let the Commissioner on this.
Speaker 3: (38:19)
Specifically, does this preclude them from doing an investigation? Or could there be two different investigations?
Tim Walz: (38:21)
John Harrington: (38:36)
I’m sorry. Thank you very much for your question. So Minnesota Department of Human Rights enforces the Minnesota Human Rights Act. We stand alone in the state as enforcing the strongest civil rights laws in some strong civil rights laws across the country. What’s going on at the federal level is different. Those are federal laws and issues. And I also want to stress that this is the only investigation that’s occurring that’s looking at systems change within Minnesota using Minnesota law. The other investigations that are going on are predominantly, primarily, about criminal investigations, looking to hold folks personally accountable. This is looking at systemic changes across the board.
Speaker 3: (39:21)
Have you been in touch with the feds? Are they going to do an investigation as well?
John Harrington: (39:21)
I’m not sure if the feds are doing an investigation, this is definitely an investigation that we’re doing from our agency.
Speaker 4: (39:30)
Take us through the timeline and how an investigation like this actually works, because I don’t recall ever seeing [inaudible 00:39:37] into an agency this large with these kinds of issues.
John Harrington: (39:42)
Yeah. Thank you for that question. Okay. So this is very much the work that we do every day. We have a phenomenal team that right now is investigating hundreds and hundreds of cases of discrimination across the state. And so the way these cases work is that a charge of discrimination is filed, an investigator is assigned to the case, a neutral investigation process that moves forward. There’s a determination that’s made on whether or not there’s discrimination under the law. We work throughout the entire process to come to solutions quickly. We use a whole alternative dispute resolution process. And we do that because we want to get to solutions, we want to get to structural change. So we always look to settle cases quickly.
John Harrington: (40:36)
The process here is similar. The difference is that this is a big thing that’s going on here. This is a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department. No doubt about that. And I think the other reason why this is really important, why this is a moment and why this is an important moment, is because we’ve heard from leadership across the city how important it is to make these systemic changes and how they have been working on and will continue to work on, in partnership led by and for and with community, for these systemic changes. And being able to have the enforcement action by the state in place can help make the systemic changes that need to happen.
Commissioner and Governor, I’d like both of your response to this. What’s the outcome you’re hoping for here? Would there be penalties against the Minneapolis Police Department, definite structural change, or is it going to be a report that comes out, gets read, and then nothing ever happens? We’ve all seen reports like this done before.
Tim Walz: (41:40)
It’s a great question. And it’s the one that community’s asking. It’s the one that they will immediately and should respond to. How is this going to be different? The question is how is this going to be different? And you asked in the first part, Tom, is what is the outcome of this? A police department that serves its people and has the trust of the people they serve, a police department that is accountable so that people can trust that that’s being done and listens to them. How do we go about doing that? And Commissioner, this is where you may talk about it. This one’s a little different because of the actual concrete things that will be put in place. It is not our intention to try and find a scapegoat, to try and find something. This sometimes happens and then you move on. It’s to make the structural cultural changes that led to systemic issues. And maybe the Commissioner can talk about what it’ll look like.
John Harrington: (42:26)
Thank you. Our hope, first and foremost, is that we can make some quick changes, that we can do some things instantly in partnership with city leadership to get to a place where we can start moving forward. Then we obviously want to get to the place where we’re doing systemic change. And that’s a longer process where we will use our, excuse me, our investigation methods to get to a place where we can get to, for instance, a consent decree, which has the strength of the courts, which is enforced for many years by the courts, which provides accountability on it from the court system. And so this is not a report. This is something that will result in court action and require change. That’s the difference.
Is there a precedent for this in another state where you’ve seen this happen?
John Harrington: (43:17)
Absolutely. There’s precedent for this both, like this gentleman mentioned, with federal cases done. And there’s precedent for this at state level as well. Specifically, for instance, in Chicago last year, they entered a consent decree similarly through their human rights laws to work on police reform just like this as well.
Speaker 5: (43:49)
John Harrington: (43:52)
Yeah, thank you for that question. I don’t have any specifics at this point because it can go a lot of different directions and we really want to make sure that we’re listening and working with community members and city leaders as we’re coming together on this. But what I can tell you is that we must move quickly right now. And so we’ve already been in a lot of conversations and we really hoping that everyone is behind this because we know that we will get farther and do more if we can all do this together.
Speaker 6: (44:22)
My question is, what is the hammer? What if they say, “We don’t want to change, thank you for coming.” [inaudible 00:44:31].
John Harrington: (44:32)
Sure. Thank you. And that is what a consent decree requires. It requires enforcement. There’s penalties from the court if a consent decree isn’t followed appropriately.
Speaker 6: (44:43)
But do they have to concede to a consent decree?
John Harrington: (44:49)
Yeah. So a consent decree is something that we would work through, through a long process to get there. It is very much in the interest of everyone for us to agree on that and for us to work on it together and everyone consents to that. That’s going to result in the real change that needs to happen. And we can certainly talk further about all the details of a consent decree at a different time.
Speaker 7: (45:18)
The Minneapolis Police Chief [inaudible 00:45:18]. They put out statements to the effect of they don’t see a problem. How are we going to work with them?
Tim Walz: (45:27)
The statement was what? They don’t see a problem?
Speaker 7: (45:29)
They put out a statement for it generally, not specifically. It was just announced. But they don’t really see a problem with their department [inaudible 00:45:36].
Tim Walz: (45:36)
Yeah. Well, and there lies the problem. We know that systemically it’s there. Most organizations, when they have cultural issues like that, that is one of the hardest things. We’re going to work together, all of us, to help to make that possible. And again, this is coming externally because of the need to change. The community is asking. They serve the community. This idea, I keep hearing this, we need to dominate on the streets, we need to do this or whatever. None of us do that. They are there to serve the public the same way that I am there to make sure that I humbly am a public servant to serve to them. I don’t make the decisions. And on this, this gets that partnership to do that.
Tim Walz: (46:13)
So we’re not naive though. I think all of you in this room have been around these things. This is going to get done. The public has demanded it. The reason I think this is different is if there’s a single person that thinks we’re going back through what we just did over the last five days, I can’t imagine that. And if you stand up and say, “There’s no issue here, this is fine.” I think you’re going to find that history is going to wash over you in a tide that we have not seen.
Is there a timeline for when this will happen?
Tim Walz: (46:43)
Yes. How do you file?
John Harrington: (46:48)
Thank you. So the charge was filed earlier today and it was served to the city of Minneapolis at about one o’clock this afternoon. So then that starts the investigation process right there. We have a team in our office. Our lead investigator is a former police officer themselves, has ton of experience, both as police and investigating police in issues of systemic discrimination. And so that process will work itself out over the next several months. That is the longer term process, obviously.
You’ll be able to get their records? You’ll have subpoena power or whatever it takes to get the records you need?
John Harrington: (47:27)
That’s right. And we’re really hoping that it’s actually something … I’ve been listening to the mayor and city leadership and I’ve heard over and over again about how much everyone is hungry for this kind of change. And so I’m hoping it’s something that we can move very quickly on because of that shared values and goals are around this issue.
Speaker 8: (47:48)
Can you give us some examples of past investigations, what the results were, what we can expect possibly to see on this [inaudible 00:47:55]?
John Harrington: (47:57)
Yes. And so, I mean, I just want to make sure that I’m answering the right question about some of the outcomes that you’ve seen from our agency generally?
Rebecca Lucero: (48:03)
… that I’m answering the right question. About some of the outcomes that you’ve seen from our agency, generally?
Speaker 10: (48:09)
From similar [inaudible 00:48:10] investigations in the past [inaudible 00:48:10]
Rebecca Lucero: (48:09)
Sure. There can be a lot of recommendations on changes to policy, from everything from how you’re enforcing pieces. I think that crowd control policy was last updated in Minneapolis in the ’90s. For instance, that’s something that could be very easily changed. There’s pieces of this as well that we, as the state, have to own as well. We have to make some changes to statute to allow for there to be better processes in place. For instance, around the residency requirements that are in statute. Those are all things that we’re looking at. We know we have to all do this together.
Speaker 10: (48:39)
This would be something that the legislature would take up as well, potentially?
Rebecca Lucero: (48:43)
Speaker 11: (48:46)
Commissioner Harrington, question for you, is there any update the truck driver on the bridge? Where that case stands? Is he still in custody, or where does that stand?
John Harrington: (48:58)
My understanding is he’s still in custody and I am waiting for a conversation with the county attorney to decide if there are charges and what the charges would be. As you know, he was booked for criminal assault in the second degree. Our investigation would be turned over to the county attorney and then they would make a decision on what the appropriate charge would be. I should have more information, given the timing on his arrest, this afternoon or this evening.
Speaker 11: (49:28)
You seemed to indicate that it was unintentional, so I’m confused as to why there still may be an assault charge.
John Harrington: (49:36)
The assault charge is what he was booked under. It would be similar to, we make an arrest and we have the best information we have at the time that we make the arrest as to what was going on, and then you go in and you do the physical evidence and you do the interviews. Then you find out that there may be different facts that change the dynamics of that, at which point you would then amend the charges so that the charges reflect what you know and what you can prove. But that, the original charge, would have been what he was booked under.
Speaker 11: (49:37)
From a story we did last night, it appears he made a delivery, a special delivery to a gas station and then left. By all accounts, it doesn’t seem that this was intentional, but there must be some reason why you’re still looking into that.
John Harrington: (50:22)
We do want to make sure that we’ve covered all of that ground. We’ve covered a lot of the same ground that you just referred to. But this was an incredibly dangerous thing to do, 70 miles an hour, heading into a crowd. This could have been a multiple fatality incident, in which case we’d be talking about criminal vehicular operation. Then, regardless of intent at that point, we would still be looking at a very serious charge. We just want to make sure, even though no one was killed, that we are certainly getting to the right charge that holds him accountable for the behaviors.
Speaker 11: (51:01)
There were several other motorists who ended up on that bridge. Some of them have been quoted in various news outlets. They say some of the fault lies with public safety, not blocking off that highway and that bridge in a timely fashion. Is there some culpability there for the state or state patrol or whomever was in charge of that?
John Harrington: (51:24)
I don’t think. I don’t see us as being culpable. When you suddenly have a group of people who run out into traffic, how fast can you get the traffic stopped becomes problematic.
John Harrington: (51:37)
We had a very quick response. Under different circumstances, I would have preferred to have had that highway shutdown hours before. Then there would be little or no chance that that would have happened. Although we still see, even when we do have roads blocked, we still see people drive around our barricades. In this case, that didn’t happen.
John Harrington: (52:01)
From a lessons-learned perspective, yes, I definitely see that we would have preferred to have had those roads completely sealed off and blocked and to have had state troopers and others working the freeway to make sure that could happen. That wasn’t available at the time. We did the best we could with trying to get those roads shut down so that we would not have a tragedy when literally thousands of people left US Bank Stadium and then emerged onto a state freeway. I certainly feel that we tried to do the best we can, but I recognize that if I had had different timing or better circumstances, I would’ve done it differently.
Speaker 12: (52:41)
One more question.
Speaker 13: (52:43)
[crosstalk 00:52:43] talking to the Governor about the Posse Caucus today.
Speaker 12: (52:46)
Dave and then Peter.
Okay. For Mr. [inaudible 00:52:49], you’ve been following the Minneapolis Police Department for a long time. You’ve been pushing for change. What are some examples of some quick changes like Commissioner [inaudible 00:52:57] said we could have, and then maybe a couple of structural things that you have in mind [inaudible 00:53:02]
Justin Terrell: (53:04)
From a consent agreement? Is that what you’re asking?
Well, she also said that she’s hoping for a couple of very quick changes. Something just in policy or in practice that Minneapolis really needs to do, they should’ve done it 10 years ago and now [inaudible 00:53:17] do it.
Justin Terrell: (53:18)
Yeah, absolutely. There’s actually a article from the Marshall Project that I shared this morning that kind of outlines that. I don’t feel like I could quote it accurately, so I won’t try to do that. But basically there’s a lot.
Justin Terrell: (53:32)
Let me be clear, I think some of these reforms are not just about like, they don’t just benefit community, they also benefit policing, right? I think we it’s important to keep the main thing the main thing, which is safe communities. Safe communities means that officer’s jobs are easier. That is ultimately what we’re working towards is to have safe communities.
Justin Terrell: (53:56)
Some specific examples. We came out and we said we need AG Ellison on the job. We said we need a civil rights investigation, and that we want to look at the post board because the post board governs the licensing of peace officers in the state of Minnesota. We need more civilians on that board, so that’s one.
Justin Terrell: (54:16)
We also need to look at setting an integrity standard. If you’re going to be an officer and you’re going to serve my community, there needs to be an integrity standard that says that if you violate public policy that you can lose your job. Just like most of us, right? If you violate a policy of truthfulness and honesty or the sanctity of life, as we have an example in this situation, that is cause to lose your job.
Justin Terrell: (54:43)
I’m thankful that Mayor Frey and Chief Rondo took that action. We need to be able to do that in more and more situations because we often hear like the “Rotten Apple” example. I’m like, “No, that’s not a good example. We’re dealing with a cancer.” Forgive me for anyone struggling with that or who has been through that. I’ve seen loved ones die of that, but that is what’s going on with law enforcement right now. Our law enforcement community is being rotten from the inside out. We have to cut that out and provide the necessary treatment to fix the system. It is that serious and we can’t turn a blind eye to it anymore.
Justin Terrell: (55:23)
There’s a lot more reforms. I would like to see civilian review actually have subpoena power and the teeth that they need to address officer complaints. One of the officers in this case had over something like 19 complaints filed against them. That’s insane. It makes no sense that you would continue to give someone with that many complaints a badge and a gun to go out and patrol my neighborhood. Send them to your neighborhood if you got that much faith in them. These kind of behaviors have perpetuated for a long time and we just need to take a full look at the system, the whole, not the half. We need to enact strong reforms to transform things.
Justin Terrell: (56:02)
One thing I’ll say about consent agreements. If people remember the tragic story of Freddie Gray, right? The other thing I’ll point to is the 21st century policing work that the Obama administration did. Then the final thing, Oh man, I just lost it. But there’s so many examples of reforms that we can put in place. Oh, Commissioner Ellison. Commissioner Harrington and AG Ellison’s work that they just did this last year. There’s tons of ideas, and then refer to the Posse Caucus, and I’m even speaking with Republicans about ideas that they have to address these concerns. We need everybody on this project.
Justin Terrell: (56:42)
Governor, that’s my question, about the press conference today in which they announced 20 different bills that they would like to consider. They want to do it at the next session. There appears to some interest in linking it, that if things are not done on these issues, that maybe we don’t do a bonding bill, we don’t do other bills. Can you comment about the administration’s-
Tim Walz: (57:04)
The lieutenant governor’s one of the founding members of that, negotiating on these.
Peggy Flanagan: (57:10)
Thank you for that question. I would say, as folks have said, where are the answer? Where are the policies? We are no longer in a place where we can throw our hands up. The People of Color and Indigenous Caucus has been putting forward policies and ideas around police reform since our founding. Now there’s an opportunity for the governor and I to work in very close contact with the Posse Caucus to move these things forward. I think we also have some additional ideas that we would like to be part of these proposals that come directly out of the work of Commissioner Harrington and Attorney General Ellison, so we want to come together.
Peggy Flanagan: (57:52)
Here’s what I would say, there are a lot of folks who are interested elected leaders who want to come into community and visit with folks and have prayer circles. All those things are important, but the most important thing that leaders can do right now is to listen, and to listen directly to communities of color and to the black community specifically about these policy proposals for police reform and deconstructing systems of racism that exists in the state. Pass them and get out of the way, and let this work happen.
Peggy Flanagan: (58:31)
Now, as far as your question regarding the additional work that we need to do in the special session that is certainly on our hearts and minds. If we don’t take action this session and take this opportunity, as Justin mentioned, I don’t see how we can move forward as a state at all. This is the time. This is the moment. We have solutions that have come directly from community. It’s time to move them forward.
Peggy Flanagan: (59:05)
The last thing that I would say while I am standing up here is I just wanted to reiterate what Commissioner Lucero said, we need the public’s help in this investigation that is going back 10 years. If you have information, if you have had an experience that you believe is important to this investigation, please visit the Department of Human Rights website or call them at (651) 539-1100.
Peggy Flanagan: (59:42)
As I have been out in community over the last several days, we have heard these things firsthand about the concerns and, frankly, how unsafe people feel in their communities because of the MPD. This is our opportunity to make that change and for folks to have their voices be heard.
Tim Walz: (01:00:08)
Well, thank you, all. We’ll see on our scheduling tonight, Commissioner Snell or someone, maybe myself, briefing again tonight. I would just, once again, echo the message. We have a beautiful day. We have ample opportunities to express our First Amendment rights with our neighbors. The folks who are out there from public safety, National Guard, police departments, are there to protect your right to do that. We’re asking you to help us out at 10:00 tonight to honor that curfew 10:00 to 4:00, and that gives us the opportunity again to reestablish this.
Tim Walz: (01:00:39)
I think today you’re seeing a move, talking about that special session. I’m going to send my strong, strong encouragement that as we look at a bonding bill, as we look at some of the things we need to do, focusing on these communities and focusing on Lake Street. If we allow that to sit fallow for a short time, it cannot happen. We need to as a community. We’re seeing outside groups come in, philanthropy, we’re seeing business community. The state of Minnesota, and I mean, whether you live in Mankato or you either live up in Roseau or you’re down in Winona, it is in our best interest as a state that shares things together to make sure that community is rebuilt, it is vibrant and we get things done.
Speaker 16: (01:01:20)
Governor, [inaudible 01:01:20]
Tim Walz: (01:01:22)
We don’t have it at this time, but I can tell you, we are assessing that with all this. There’s a metrics that my public safety folks put up on there. I think we’re trying to get as current information to Minnesotans as we can get. I think, again, we’ve watched the last two nights especially, Minnesotans respond amazingly. It was my belief all along that the folks that are up on the capitol and the folks that are down on 38th were the ones that were going to really make sure that the nights were safe by showing us the difference. We’ll be assessing that. Commissioner Harrington briefs me later in the evening and then we have our first brief in the morning by about 6:00 or so to start getting information. We’ll be back.
Tim Walz: (01:02:00)
Speaker 17: (01:02:01)
Governor, the bonding bill [inaudible 01:02:02] as far as rebuilding [inaudible 01:02:04].
Tim Walz: (01:02:06)
That is happening, as far as the conversation. The representatives from the Twin Cities, the two senators, Klobuchar and Smith, and Congresswoman’s McCullum and Omar have been in conversations with us and we’ve expressed some of our desires to explore what we can do there. We’ll follow up.
Speaker 18: (01:02:24)
Tim Walz: (01:02:24)
Thank you, all.
Speaker 18: (01:02:25)
The Guard? The National Guard?
Tim Walz: (01:02:27)
Speaker 18: (01:02:27)
The same level of National Guardsmen?
Tim Walz: (01:02:29)
Yeah, same level.
Speaker 18: (01:02:29)
Tim Walz: (01:02:31)
Same level of folks on the street. We’ll start, as you heard General Jensen, start moving troops, but it doesn’t impact those that are in the mission.