Apr 29, 2021
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz April 29 Press Conference Transcript: Calls on State Senate for Police Reform
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz held a press conference on April 29 where he called on the Minnesota Senate to take immediate action on police reform following the police killing of Daunte Wright. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Governor Tim Walz: (00:04)
Good morning everyone. And good morning, Minnesota. As you can see, our legislators who are working pretty much around the clock, we’re now moving inside three weeks of work to be done at the legislature. They’re they’re doing their work, but they’re here today. And they’re here today in a bipartisan manner, a bicameral manner to talk about what we’ve all been talking about over the last year. And since that day on May 25th, as George Floyd laid at 38th in Chicago, this state in this nation has started to come to grips with public safety and the intersection of race and community. And these legislators are the legislators who worked last summer after the death of George Floyd and put together a bill that they sent to my desk to sign, and make historic and needed first steps around police reform. That took a lot of work. It showed what was possible. It added on to, as we saw last week, while there was accountability in the courtroom, systemic change is going to take work and it’s going to take a lot of folks letting down their guard a bit and having conversations of working together. And I want to note that that change is being advocated, not just by Minnesotans and Americans across the country who watched that trial. It’s being advocated by police. It’s being advocated by obviously elected officials. It’s being advocated by social justice advocates. There’s an intersection here of a lot of commonality. And so the work that we have and the potential that we have to show the rest of the country, where potential change can come, where we can bring folks together to make sure that if a young man like Daunte Wright is stopped, that he doesn’t die for that traffic violation. And we figure out ways.
Governor Tim Walz: (01:58)
We’ve done incredible jobs here, the legislature and the judicial branch, the successes we’ve had around specialty courts are stunning. And anyone who ever believed in redemption and restorative justice only need watch someone who struggled with chemical addiction or a veteran returning back from conflict to see that there are better ways than arresting and imprisoning people. There are more effective ways that can get the outcomes we want, and that’s what this group is working on. And that’s what we’re advocating for. So the piece of legislation that’s coming out of the House, they’re going to talk about the pieces that are in there. And of course, Lieutenant governor, myself, and our administration, Department of Public Safety are hugely supportive of these. Some of them just strike such a sense of common sense that let’s figure out a way to not get into the situation that Daunte Wright was in, if we can figure it out for minor traffic violations or misdemeanors.
Governor Tim Walz: (02:53)
Let’s figure out a better way to move folks into that restorative track and that way to give us the support necessary rather than to the confrontation that can lead to the incredibly heartbreaking outcomes that we saw. They’re going to talk about the need to change some of those traffic stops. They’re going to talk about there’s no need for no knock warrants, to have horrific mistakes that can happen with that and the terror that comes out of that. Not to say that people aren’t going to be held accountable, but there’s less intrusive, less damaging ways that we can do that. And for that, I’m grateful.
Governor Tim Walz: (03:25)
I would like to note that these legislators again have been instrumental. They’re working on multiple fronts around budgeting, but they’re reflecting their community. Many of our representatives who are here represent the people of color and indigenous caucus. These are folks with lived experiences that know the trauma that’s in their community. But I am going to note too, is if you’d notice on this and some of the reporters who were here a lot, Representative Miller has joined us. And I want to make note of this. At a moment when we’re going to have to find our better angels, and we’re going to need leaders to step up and step out of a place that’s comfortable around everything being so politicized, Representative Miller is here to help further this discussion.
Governor Tim Walz: (04:02)
I’d like to note that the representative and I had a conversation the other day that lifted my spirits, lifted about what the potential would be. And just to be clear, make no mistake about this. I think the representative would note this too, is I don’t think Representative Miller agrees with very many of my positions on things and we proudly debate those differences, but the common humanity in this and try and find that, you’re seeing a representative who I would have to, and I certainly would not speak to it. There’s probably zero political gain from doing this, other than the fact that Minnesotans are watching and they’re watching us, and there’s a moral imperative for us to do something. And it is going to take people to step out of a comfort zone, including myself, including the folks who are here.
Governor Tim Walz: (04:46)
Representative Miller is modeling that today and we’ll speak his heart and his lived experience about what that means for him. And I think just for myself personally, I’m very grateful. I’m very grateful for you joining the work with these folks, not with an expectation that that means you’re going to agree with everything that we have, but it means we’re going to bring a voice to the table that has the potential to influence this legislation and get it passed and start making a difference in people’s lives. And that’s incredibly encouraging. So I’m going to turn it to the Lieutenant Governor, who will then turn it to the folks who’ve done the work and written on this. But again, I think that perspective of a lived experience, Minnesota should not forget that we’re the first state in the country that put an indigenous woman into executive office. And for that, we should be proud. That’s progress. Lieutenant Governor Flanagan.
Lieutenant Governor Flanagan: (05:37)
Thank you, governor. And thank you everyone for being here this morning. I started off my day having a conversation with [inaudible 00:05:50] Perry. She called me this morning and we talked together as moms. And she asked me today to ensure that I spoke her son’s name. And Hardell Cheryl was her boy who she lost. And justice for her son and for so many others is contained in these bills. So I made a commitment and a promise to her to do everything that I can to ensure that we move forward in a positive way in the memory of her son and for all of those we are carrying with us in this moment.
Lieutenant Governor Flanagan: (06:43)
So like many Minnesotans, I could feel myself holding my breath. I have never experienced the knots in my stomach, as we were all waiting for the verdict in the Derek Chauvin case. The verdict declaring that Chauvin was guilty on all three counts was a relief. And to be honest, it was also a surprise for many of us who were expecting a different outcome. And it felt like an acknowledgement, finally, of the truth that so many of us have been carrying since May 25th. And also, knowing that George Floyd should still be alive and that his daughter should have her father.
Lieutenant Governor Flanagan: (07:42)
We are grappling with a very different reality of systemic racism here in Minnesota. It’s on our state’s policymakers to ensure that last week’s guilty verdict was just a first step towards true justice, building a state where every single Minnesotan is safe and valued, protected, believed in their community. I am so grateful to our partners in the house and particularly the members of the people of color and indigenous caucus for their bold leadership and unrelenting push on police reform and accountability. They listened to Minnesotans. They heard the cries of thousands of protesters here in Minnesota, but let us not forget, across the world. And they took action to create meaningful change.
Lieutenant Governor Flanagan: (08:49)
Now, here we stand urging Republicans in the Minnesota Senate to act. We are at a moment, we are at a choice point where we can continue to push for justice and build on the foundation of the verdict, or we can continue to sit in discomfort and remain silent and not take action, which frankly is what got us here in the first place. So I am so ready to work in partnership with folks on all sides of the aisle to get this done. And I know that the governor is too. Ensuring that our police departments protect the communities they serve should that not be a partisan issue. So it’s time to create that change. And one of the folks who’s helping us to create that change is Senate Majority Leader Susan Kent, who I’d like to invite to the podium.
Senator Susan Kent: (10:00)
Thank you, Lieutenant Governor, for your words. Good morning all. Thank you for being here. The killing of George Floyd and Daunte Wright highlighted deep rooted issues in our policing system that people of color have known about for years. As attorney general, Keith Ellison said the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin was a step towards accountability, but there is a lot of work to do to reach justice. In doing this work, the ball is in the court of the Minnesota legislature. We must address police reform immediately because every Minnesotan, regardless of where they live or what they look like deserves to feel safe in their communities. As we are here this morning, I am remembering when we gathered in the same room last July for the bill signing of the Police Accountability Act of 2020. We said then that it was a first step. It was the bare minimum of what Senate Republicans would agree to at the time. And we understood this work needed to continue in the 2021 session.
Senator Susan Kent: (11:03)
As of today, Senate Republicans have held zero hearings on police reform with just over two weeks left in this year session. After the death of Daunte Wright, Senator Gazelka promised informational hearings on police reform before the end of session. Last week, he went back on that promise saying we’ll use the conference committee process. While the conference committee path may help us pass police reform legislation, it limits the chance for public stakeholders and members, particularly senators of color, to be a part of that discussion. Finally, while Senator Gazelka has committed to letting the committee process play out, he won’t commit to actually passing the reforms we desperately need.
Senator Susan Kent: (11:51)
Right now, we have a window of time while the world is watching to be the leaders that our communities of color need us to be. We have over two weeks to pass meaningful public safety reform. We’ve seen how fast the Senate can act when they choose to. Just this week, we passed almost $8 million very quickly to fund public safety after the Chauvin trial. We need to act with the same urgency to pass police reform. There’s incredible support and momentum for police reform right now, including from Minnesota businesses who know that it is good for business when residents and visitors feel safe in our communities. We’ve received letters of support on police reform from the Minnesota Business Partnership and the Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity, which includes representatives from 30 large Minnesota businesses, including 3M in my own district, Best Buy, General Mills, Medtronic, and Target. Just to name a few.
Senator Susan Kent: (12:49)
They understand how important it is that we continue making needed reforms and the urgency of doing so. And the house just passed transformational police reform legislation last week. And I applaud them for their bold and swift action recognizing the urgency of what’s at stake. I also want to note that police reform is only part of the equation in creating truly equal opportunities and justice for people of color in Minnesota. We must address the systemic inequities that have existed in Minnesota for generations, by enacting a state budget that reflects our shared values and bring us brings us closer towards equity for all. Again, the world is watching. This is a time when Minnesota can lead and model for other states how to come together to make policy changes that will literally save people’s lives.
Senator Susan Kent: (13:38)
And when it comes to saving lives, it’s simply unacceptable to say, we’ll get to that next year. Thank you. And I would now like to welcome Speaker Melissa Hortman.
Speaker Melissa Hortman: (14:03)
Good morning. As we enter the final weeks of the legislative session, it is absolutely essential that significant police reform and accountability legislation is passed by the House and the Senate and sent to Governor Walls’ desk for his signature. The Minnesota House of Representatives passed significant reform last week in our public safety and judiciary budget. It included accountability measures and criminal justice reforms. Our bill contains provisions to prevent unnecessary traffic stops, provide civilian oversight councils and an early intervention system, restrict the use of no-knock warrants, strengthen body camera policies, and prohibit law enforcement from affiliating with white supremacist groups, among other reforms. I’m grateful to Chair Carlos Mariani, Vice Chair Cedric Frazier, chair of the judiciary committee, Jamie Becker-Finn, and Vice Chair Kelly Mueller, and all of the members of the DFL caucus who’ve worked on reform legislation.
Speaker Melissa Hortman: (15:10)
I’m also incredibly grateful and indebted to Commissioner John Harrington, Attorney General Keith Ellison, and Marina Moran, who with others, work for more than a year on an effort to put together a handbook of policies that we could adopt that would reduce deadly force encounters between police and communities of color.
Speaker Melissa Hortman: (15:32)
When Philando Castile lost his life in 2016, it was a catalyst for change for many DFL elected officials, appointed officials, and members of our community, Philando Castile’s mother, Valerie, dedicated her life to police reform and accountability, and his best friend John Thompson did as well. They have been acting since Philando’s death to urge us to adopt provisions that would change Minnesota’s reality here. Had we listened to their recommendations, had we enacted the change that they advocated for, perhaps we would not be talking about the loss of George Floyd’s life and the loss of Daunte Wright’s life.
Speaker Melissa Hortman: (16:17)
We appreciate the law enforcement professionals in the State of Minnesota who keep us safe and respect human and constitutional rights. It must be acknowledged that there are heroic law enforcement officers who go to work every day, putting their lives on the line to protect us. Their good and heroic work is overshadowed by these deadly force encounters that never should have happened. For all of our safety, we have to take steps to improve accountability and public trust.
Speaker Melissa Hortman: (16:52)
We in the Minnesota House DFL and the Minnesota House of Representatives are committed to delivering safe communities and a fair justice system for all Minnesotans. We need Senate Republicans to join with us. At the conference committee, we have set the table. We have invited them. They must accept our offer to partner in this work. Democrats and Republicans worked with community and law enforcement last summer to take some steps forward. And we all acknowledged that was chapter one. And chapter two was yet to be written. The post board took some incredibly good steps last week, but that’s just the beginning as well. Minnesotans are calling for action now, and the Minnesota House of Representatives stands with them. We hear them and we are determined to enact meaningful police reform and accountability provisions this year. Now, it’s my pleasure to introduce our chair of our Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee, Carlos Mariani.
Carlos Mariani: (18:06)
Good morning, everyone. My name is Carlos Mariani. I’m also a state representative from St. Paul, and I’ve had the privilege for the past three years of chairing the Minnesota House committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform. And I have to say right off the bat, that when I accepted that assignment, it was very much under the commitment on the part of our speaker, myself, and our caucus to address the racial equity challenges and racism challenges that we see at our corrections in our public safety systems.
Carlos Mariani: (18:44)
There is a wise saying, it’s never the wrong time to do the right thing. Today, I joined our governor and my House and Senate colleagues, including my Republican colleagues, Representative Miller in saying now is the time for the municipal legislature to act on police reform and accountability. Not later, but now. Now after a jury of 12 regular citizens, white and black, women and men filed that a state licensed peace officer, Sergeant Chauvin murdered a citizen of our state in the course of a police detention, an unarmed black man named George Floyd.
Carlos Mariani: (19:27)
Not later, but now, after another state licensed peace officer shot and killed another young black man. He was 20 years old, after a traffic stop for a misdemeanor administrative suspected violation. Expired tags leads to the death of Daunte Wright. Why is that acceptable? Not later, but now. A few years after a low level possible traffic violation also produced the outcome of a state licensed peace officers shooting to death a non-resistant compliant Philando Castile in front of his partner and preschool child. Now is the time, not later.
Carlos Mariani: (20:14)
This year, the Minnesota House has passed anti-bad cop legislation. We did that in our Public Safety Omnibus Bill, which will now be conferee with the Minnesota Senate. Our bill has several provisions to address these violations of decency and human rights. Now, it is a simple fact that Senator Kent just shared that the Minnesota Senate on the other hand has not passed a single piece of legislation, nor held a single hearing on police accountability, accountability for these killings. They even recently reneged on their own last minute promise to Minnesotans of holding an informational issue on policing issues. Across the nation, state legislatures are holding hearings and acting, but not-
Carlos Mariani: (21:03)
There are holding hearings and acting, but not the Minnesota Senate Republican majority. However, this morning we’re not here to shame the senators, only to speak truth and pull one another along to meet the needs of our citizens, especially those of communities of color traumatized by deadly encounters, repeated deadly encounters, with our licensed peace officers. So we’re here to call on our civic colleagues to act as we meet in conference committee and act now.
Carlos Mariani: (21:35)
The House offers several ways to act, from regulating traffic stops to empowering citizens to review local police actions, to appropriating funds for community-based interventions to violence. There is a lot that the House brings to the conference committee from which to choose, including bi-partisan support for a number of these provisions.
Carlos Mariani: (21:58)
As I mentioned earlier, the officers who killed these three black citizens and others over the years were all licensed by the state of Minnesota. You can’t be a peace officer in Minnesota unless the state licenses you. Minnesotans should be shocked that over its decades long history, a state professional licensing board has rarely acted to use its regulatory powers to help pick out the “bad apples” and ensure that licensed professionals not act in unprofessional ways and in life-threatening ways.
Carlos Mariani: (22:37)
Recent leadership at that board is welcome, but it still needs direction from the legislature. And it would further help to see statutory affirmation of its need to be proactive. Regulatory reform may sound boring to many, but the rules and the accountability system matters. It matters to shape the firm duties and the behaviors of our license officers, especially in issues of life and death.
Carlos Mariani: (23:09)
The House bill, building on last year’s work, uses the power of licensing to help save lives. The bill adds vital data collection. It regulates new conditions for traffic stops. It erects new limits to no knock warrants, addresses the unfairness of statutes of limitations to wrongful deaths, and regulates body camera access. In 2019, the Minnesota House passed regulatory reform to have our licensing board develop an early warning system, the kind that could have intervened in the trajectory of Sergeant Chauvin before he killed George Floyd.
Carlos Mariani: (23:55)
Republican Senate majority held no hearings then on that proposal and rejected the House provision in conference. 12 months later, George Floyd was murdered. Three months after that, under pressure from citizens, businesses, corporations, faith communities, the Minnesota Senate Republican majority finally agreed that together we pass that same proposal, albeit in a watered down state, but we acted. But the price for action was too high. It mattered to George Floyd’s life that the Senate chose not to act earlier when they could have. Let’s not repeat that.
Carlos Mariani: (24:40)
Our solemn duty as elected officials is to always do the right thing. Always. I don’t think most of us think our job is to protect the “bad apples” or to protect a weak police accountability system. Now is the time to act and pass the next steps of police accountability legislation. The public wants police reform and it wants police to be their partners. We can achieve both, but the Senate needs to act because it’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.
Carlos Mariani: (25:23)
And members, now I call on my brother and my friend and good public servant, Senator Bobby Joe Champion. Thank you, governor.
Bobby Joe Champion: (25:44)
Good morning. It’s always… First of all, I want to say thank you to Governor Walz and the Lieutenant governor. And I want to say thank you to all the other [inaudible 00:25:57] here. And I appreciate the opportunity to join you and my colleagues from the Senate and House this morning to address the important issue of police reform.
Bobby Joe Champion: (26:09)
It is really interesting whenever we come to a place like this and talk to Minnesotans about an issue that is so important. And sometimes, when we’re doing our daily work over in the legislature, we lose sight sometimes of what our real responsibility is. And interestingly enough, as I heard those who spoke before me and have noted the murder of George Floyd and the recent police killing of Daunte Wright, really exposed the world to the injustices that black people and people of color face every day in Minnesota. And what’s sad to say that it’s just not in Minnesota, but it’s national as well.
Bobby Joe Champion: (26:55)
And sometimes, we have misconception that individuals who find themselves in the crosshairs of law enforcement have done something wrong. In fact, that’s not always the truth. But the reality also is that I have two black boys at home. And I really shouldn’t say at home, because I have one who’s in college in Colorado, and then I have one who’s a senior in high school and getting ready to go to college. And what’s interesting about that, and the only reason why I raise that, is because every day before my son leaves, gets ready to drive someplace, I worry about if he’s going to return home.
Bobby Joe Champion: (27:41)
I, from time to time, will say to him… Even when I left this morning, he was at the dining room table doing a distance learning, doing math. And it’s rewarding to see him in that element and to understand that he’s doing everything he can to make sure that he makes a positive contribution, not only to our family and neighborhood and community, but to the world. But there’s a real threat that if we don’t do something, the lives of… Miles is his name… Or the lives of… Jalen is my other son’s name who is in Colorado… Will never, ever get a chance to live out their full potential.
Bobby Joe Champion: (28:27)
That’s the importance of now. And not only just in my family and I, Bobby Joe Champion, who represents Senate district 59, which includes north Minneapolis, the north loop, Brinmar, downtown, and Elliot Park, but the people of Minnesota are demanding police reform. And that is our responsibility to hear them and take action.
Bobby Joe Champion: (28:52)
It is long past due for our government to make meaningful investments in our communities and to take action to reform the police and hold law enforcement officers or officials accountable for their actions. This is not a gathering for us to say that all police are bad. That’s not what we’re saying. We’re saying those who don’t do the right thing should be held accountable. That’s what this is all about.
Bobby Joe Champion: (29:19)
And so far this session, the Senate majority has not held a single hearing on police reform. Not one. Meanwhile, the House, and I give Speaker Hortman and Chair [Mariani 00:29:37] and all the other folks in the House credit, that they’ve worked day and night to pass meaningful reforms, to make sure that all of us can feel safe in our communities, no matter what we look like, how old we are, or where we live.
Bobby Joe Champion: (29:54)
I was listening to one of my colleagues earlier today, and they were talking about how their license is expired and other different things and how they have not been stopped by the police or don’t always get stopped by the police. And I chuckled to myself because I said, I wish that were me because I get stopped all the time. No matter if I have a suit on, a shirt and tie on or not. But the colleague of mine is just a wonderful person, and I got a smile out of just hearing that story.
Bobby Joe Champion: (30:28)
And that’s why police accountability is important. And so following the passage of the Police Accountability Act during the special session in 2020… And remember, I said that the Senate has not had one hearing. Paul Gazelka gave us his word that the Senate will take additional steps to consider and adopt police reform measures. Just two weeks ago, Paul Gazelka or Senator Gazelka again gave us his word that the Senate would hold [inaudible 00:31:00] that requires all of us to work together, hand in hand, and we cannot do it alone. It requires people of all races, gender [inaudible 00:31:09]
Tim Miller: (31:08)
Greatest responsibility for government is to provide safety, security, and justice for its people. But that needs to be in God’s righteousness and not just by the hands of a powerful few. We answer to him. People of Minnesota have lost faith in us as leaders to do what is right for everyone. Mothers and children in poor communities don’t trust the very people assigned to give them protection. The officers, the very people assigned to this great task, are beleaguered by attacks on their character and questioned on their oath by our leaders. People from my district in rural Minnesota don’t feel safe to come to the very gem of our state, the Twin Cities. Urban residents don’t trust the intentions of people like me.
Tim Miller: (31:59)
It is incumbent on us as leaders to make this right. It is our responsibility to restore the people’s trust. We do not restore trust and we do not provide justice and safety to our citizens through politics. We do this by listening to each other, humbling ourselves, and doing what is right for others, even at the risk of exposing our own interests.
Tim Miller: (32:25)
We have been elected by the people of Minnesota to serve their interests and not our own. Madam Speaker, when you mentioned [Philando Castile 00:32:34] Valerie Castile, a bit off script, but that reminded me two years ago, she was in the audience when we passed some legislation off the House floor, and she made a comment. Maybe it was in committee, sorry that I forget the exact context, but she made a comment, “I don’t understand how a Christian person cannot listen to what’s going on and do something about it.” And my first reaction was, well, I’m a Christian man, and that’s offensive that you said that to me because you have no idea what it is that I’m doing. But God checked my spirit and said, “You need to listen to what she’s saying, not what you think you’re saying.” And that had a real big impact on me and I think has adjusted my perspective in a lot of things that we’re doing here at the Capitol.
Tim Miller: (33:22)
So my role in this committee will be to bring balance in our conversations and to remind everyone in attendance to unite and work together for the common good for the people of this great state of Minnesota. I’m confident under the leadership of Chairs Mariani and Limmer, we can achieve this goal. May God heal our land.
Tim Miller: (33:42)
Right now, I’d like to introduce a good man, a person that I’m just getting to know and we plan to get to know each other more coming out of this, Representative Cedrick Frazier.
Cedrick Frazier: (33:59)
Good morning, everybody. Thank you for being here. And Rep. Miller, thank you for that. Just this past week, we passed the public safety onus bill, and it took us through midnight to do that. And Representative Miller gave comments before we took that vote, and his comments really touched me. He told the story and he referenced his wife and his child. And after that, Representative Miller and I, we don’t share any committees. And in this COVID time, we don’t get the chance to build the relationships that we need to build. I took the moment, I stepped across the aisle and went over to talk to Rep. Miller, and we stepped outside, and we talked for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Cedrick Frazier: (34:36)
In that conversation, we got to talk about things that we had commonalities around. We need to have more of those conversations. So again, Rep. Miller, thank you for being here. And I’m looking forward to getting to know you better as we move through these conference committee negotiations. So thank you.
Cedrick Frazier: (34:50)
I’m Cedrick Frazier, representative of district 45A, which covers the cities of New Hope, Crystal, and the eastern part of Plymouth. First I’ll say, I think most people can agree that before we had a guilty verdict, we had a guilty system. And it is time that this GOP Senate act on this reality.
Cedrick Frazier: (35:10)
As we enter negotiations, I recognize that this is a moment where all Minnesotans of conscience fear that black lives mattering will become a political or partisan issue. It doesn’t need to be this way. I don’t want it to be this way. The activists who marched in the streets will tell you they aren’t Democrats or Republicans. They are just concerned about human rights. GOP members from the House, voted on the provisions in this bill, will tell you this issue doesn’t have to be partisan. Police from post and DPS who support provisions in this bill will tell you this bill doesn’t have to be anti-police.
Cedrick Frazier: (35:49)
It’s going to be up to the Senate how they choose to value black lives. Will they continue ignoring, dismissing this county and our claims, our struggles, our protests? Or will they find common ground? Because we already have in these bills. We have found common ground with the GOP on bills that asked police not to stop folks based on expired tabs in air fresheners. We have found common ground on bills that ask courts not to issue arrest warrants for every petty infraction. We have found common ground with law enforcement or collection, collecting data on bad officers, so we can remove these bad apples, and that also give tools to local families’ ability to be compensated for wrongful death.
Cedrick Frazier: (36:33)
These are common sense reforms based on a notion that the state has a role to play in regulating police through its licensure by changing how we enforce laws. It’s a regular but radical notion that our state license should mean something like it does for our teachers. In short, if the Senate thinks black lives matter, like they say, this negotiation shouldn’t be hard, which returns to me to how I began. I fear that this moment may lead to black lives becoming a political partisan issue. I hope to send it doesn’t treat our lives like a bargaining chip. And I truly mean that. And I hope they’re listening right now. But I am looking forward to engaging in these negotiations. And I am looking forward to coming together truly as one Minnesota and putting some laws in place that will make and provide for a public safety system that is good for all Minnesotans. Thank you. I’ll return the podium back to governor.
Governor Tim Walz: (37:39)
Well, thank you all. Another day to be incredibly proud of Minnesota, to take the situation and the moment we’re in head on. And this is truly an inflection point.
Governor Tim Walz: (37:50)
I was thinking, listen to these reps, especially Senator Champion, talking about Miles and Jalen. I remember once, and I believe it was a Dalai Lama quote, said, “Imagine how different the world would be if you saw every child the way you see your own.” And that perspective of listening to him talk as a father’s pride in those children, I’m thinking of my son Gus, who is not diligent in math, but who I love with all my heart. And I think an ask, Minnesotans, it’s what all of these folks are asking, it’s what Representative Miller is asking us to find in our hearts, see that other perspective.
Governor Tim Walz: (38:25)
I think about this, that unimaginable love I have for my son Gus, I can’t imagine the daily traumas, call them what… micro traumas, call them what you will, they’re traumas of imagining… I don’t worry about him being killed in a traffic stop. I worry about him doing something stupid. Yes, that may be those things all parents worry about, but not something that just because of how he looks and how that is viewed when they walk up to that car. It’s unimaginable. And it should break all of our hearts because as parents, that’s our most precious thing.
Governor Tim Walz: (39:05)
So we have a moment here. Representative Frazier’s right. We need to keep this from politicizing black, brown, and indigenous bodies. We need to try and find a way to bring us together and listen to where folks are at. And hearing the speaker talk about the work that law enforcement needs to do every day. And that those are the very people asking us to help make their jobs easier, help make their jobs work.
Governor Tim Walz: (39:31)
And again, those that work, that John Harrington and Keith Ellison, Rena Moran did. And I would add thousands of Minnesotans who gathered at those meetings, who did it together, they gave us a roadmap. They gave us a best practice. They’re simply codifying it, and then we can put it into practice and, again, make that step.
Governor Tim Walz: (39:51)
So thank you all. This is our moment. And we look forward to doing the work that’s laid in front of us. With that, thank you for your patience to the press. These words needed to be said, and I’m grateful they were said.
Speaker 1: (40:03)
Governor, last week you said you would burn all of your political capital on this issue. I’m wondering what has changed in your tactics to get Republicans on your side and more broadly, if the effort is to not politicize police reforms to protect black people, how can you effectively do that when you’re putting Republicans on blast for not taking up what you want to see?
Governor Tim Walz: (40:31)
I would challenge that I put them on blast. I don’t think you heard that today. I would hope not. I hope it’s not the same construct that people are there. It was listening, and it was calling Tim Miller and having him speak to me, and with an understanding… I think he has a pretty strong expectation he would like to see me reciprocate that and try and meet in some places where we can.
Governor Tim Walz: (40:52)
So I think, again, I’m trying not to, but I have to call it where it is. The facts are the facts. It’s not [inaudible 00:41:00] we were promised hearings and they didn’t happen. That is not politicizing. That is a factual part of a story. That belongs in the news, not the opinion page.
Governor Tim Walz: (41:08)
With that being said, we’re trying to find this common ground. I think you heard it. The business community… Senator Kent’s right about this. I’m getting bombarded by the business community to do something. And I just want to say, one of the things the governor has is the ability to call the question, use the platform. The platform was to turn it over to this group and to try and work together.
Governor Tim Walz: (41:29)
So I think that I’m keeping what I said, that if this is burning political capital, yes, we’re spending time on this, but you don’t save political capital for your own end. You bank political capital to expend it on the change that you want to see. And this is the change we want to see. And you’ve got folks out here burning a lot of political capital because it needs to be done. So I will just keep trying to work with them. I don’t see where the justification is not allowing the democracy to work. It’s clear that people are demanding that we hold these hearings. And when you hold-
Governor Tim Walz: (42:03)
… the work. It’s clear that people are demanding that we hold these hearings. And when you hold a hearing, have people in who disagree with you. It’s not a hearing when you bring in your witnesses, you bring in your testifiers, you bring in your way of doing things. You have to bring in the opinion on the other side.
Governor Tim Walz: (42:18)
And some of you heard me say this. The thing that I love most about being in Congress was when we were in committee with witnesses in front of us that we could question and you actually learn. And coming out of there, and some of you can attest to this, you come out of there and say, “Well, I got to say I was wrong about that. I got to change my position.” It happens.
Speaker 2: (42:37)
Governor, are there meaningful conversations happening with the police groups to bring them along rather than them seeing this as something that might be imposed on them unwillingly?
Governor Tim Walz: (42:47)
Yeah, there are. And we’re reaching out and talking to them. I called all of the major police organizations last week before the post board made what I think … And this group here would attest to that. We need model policy around First Amendment gatherings to make sure that journalists and individuals are not swept up in anything that suppresses them and have that conversation of how we can get folks who are activists out there, because I’ll tell you, we’re doing after action report on this, and I think the two things that you saw that changed the tone out in Brooklyn Center was when a second fence and a deescalation separated and where community leaders were out there on the fence to talk back and forth. And then all of a sudden, there was some humanity. So I guess I’ll leave it at that.
Speaker 3: (43:35)
Governor … Or I should say this is maybe a question actually for the lawmakers. I know that the White supremacist ban languages in there and so, too, is the model policy that you just mentioned, Governor. The post board just approved that. I’m wondering if that’s enough, or does it need to be codified in state law?
Speaker 4: (44:03)
Thank you for the question. I think that’s a great step. But I mentioned earlier about this radical notion that our license should mean something. The p-
Speaker 5: (44:11)
… conversations between members from the Senate and the House to try to find common ground. Where there are impasses that develop, then I foresee Senator Limmer contacting Gazelka and saying, “I can’t get anywhere,” or Chair Mariani contacting me and saying, “I can’t get anywhere.” And only at that point do we get inserted into that process.
Speaker 5: (44:33)
We really need for the leaders of the three law enforcement organizations and the leaders in the community groups to be fully engaged with Chair Mariani, Chair Limmer, and all the members of the conference committee. That is where the work should happen. And there should be a mixture of private conversations and public hearings, where these conversations happen in front of the public. So that’s what I would expect.
Speaker 5: (45:01)
And then basically, the one piece of work that the three of us have to do is we have to give targets to each of the committees to tell them how much money to spend. And so we’ll be wrestling with that over the next week. I think in order for the session to end on time, it would be optimal if we had numbers for each of the budget areas by Friday, May 7th.
Speaker 5: (45:24)
So that means that Senator Gazelka, Governor Walz, and I will be working pretty much around the clock. Senator Gazelka and I already have plans to meet at least briefly Saturday and Sunday to check in. And hopefully, we’re going to start exchanging offers. The governor and I will be spending some time later today to talk about the DFL perspective.
Speaker 5: (45:50)
Speaker 6: (45:52)
Speaker 5: (46:06)
Well, I think that we had in the 19-week session, during weeks one through 17, an opportunity to give a forum to Minnesotans in both the House and the Senate. And I think it would have been advantageous both for Minnesotans and the senators to hear from them.
Speaker 5: (46:24)
But I think the Senate can certainly benefit from all of the work that we did in the House, listening to Minnesotans and developing these policies. And I’m certain that Chair Mariani could oversee some public meetings of the conference committee to bring members of the public in and help explain to the senators who aren’t as familiar what’s in our bill and why it’s there.
Speaker 7: (46:46)
I have a question about the post board action last week. The post board enacted a policy, or it’s looking into, it’s exploring enacting a policy on White supremacist officers. And on the other matter, I’ve forgotten what the other one was. Forgive me.
Speaker 7: (47:02)
But the questions about the rulemaking, they’re talking about making this a rulemaking process, which is a very long process. It’s going to take all the steps that are involved in rulemaking. It ultimately has to be signed off by an administrative hearing office. Is that the kind of process that you want to go through, or would it be shorter and just would things get done more quickly if this was done legislatively? And is that the real object here?
Governor Tim Walz: (47:29)
Well, I think I agree with Representative Frazier. I worry about anything I do leaves with me, if it’s that way. And the post board, where the terms extend, and you saw we had seven new members of the post board, I think anything you can codify is good. But I think that process, there’ll be a sense of urgency around it. We’re not talking about rushing it through, but there’s an expectation that it will be done. We’re really working hard. And this one, I own what Department of Public Safety, state patrol, DNR, National Guard. I want to have the nation’s model policy on conduct around First Amendment gatherings.
Governor Tim Walz: (48:05)
And so there is some work to be done on that. The White supremacy piece, that’s a pretty low bar, it seems to me. We should be able to figure that out pretty quickly. If you belong to a white supremacist group openly, you can’t be a police officer. I don’t know where the pushback on that will come from, but we will see. I’ve been surprised before.
Governor Tim Walz: (48:23)
But no, I think that process will be done right. It needs to happen. I think you heard these representatives did make it very clear that the risk is the longer it takes, we add another name to that fraternity of mothers who no one wants to be in. And I think you heard the speaker say, had we listened to what we found out after Philando Castile, we certainly can’t prove the negative, but I think evidence points to that. There was a much better chance we wouldn’t have had George Floyd’s death or Dante Wright’s.
Governor Tim Walz: (48:48)
So I think, again, anything that they can codify … And I would extend that to many things. I would like to see that around, again, moving into other topics, eviction moratorium they’re working on, vaccine distribution, those types of things. But right now, since that isn’t going, post board will do it. I trust the chair over there. I trust the members of that. And we’ll get it, but there will be some time. You’re right.
Speaker 8: (49:14)
Speaker 7: (49:16)
On the First Amendment stuff, and that was the other one obviously, there has been concern expressed in committee. There was concerns expressed during the post board hearing about First Amendment constitutional issues associated with that, that, for instance, some people were worried. One officer on the post board was worried that she might be brandished as a White supremacist because she’s got a Facebook friend. There were people who were worried about the First Amendment constitutional issues involving the protections. Are those real stumbling blocks or is that just noise?
Governor Tim Walz: (49:47)
No, and I think that’s legitimate. And I am concerned. That’s where we protect everyone on that. Those are not made up things. And we want to make sure that we’re not demonizing everyone. We want it to be exactly what it says. And this is going to be a bit of a challenge, obviously, especially around the First Amendment piece, because it’s going to talk about conduct of folks who are there to hold the peace, but it’s also going to go in, and we saw this happen, that there was conduct demonstrated by folks who made sure that there was no way you could misinterpret the peaceful protestors were not there to cause problems. And they made that very clear.
Governor Tim Walz: (50:26)
And I think once we have that understanding, I think we have the potential here. We never want to see people be intimidated about going to the streets and asking for change. We also don’t want to get to a point where those become magnets for folks who want to burn buildings down. And so that’s what we’re trying to do.
Governor Tim Walz: (50:42)
But I do think, yes, we have to always be very careful when we’re doing this and the issue of looking at that. And I would say this. We’re looking at it federally on this. That same thing applies to military and I would say of my profession. We certainly should make sure that the licensings and standards around teachers, if there’s known White supremacist ties, that those are dealt with, too.
Governor Tim Walz: (51:04)
So I do think there needs to be a process. There needs to be due process for everybody. But you heard our intelligence folks talk about this. You heard President Biden talk about it. White supremacist extremism is the terrorism that we need to be most concerned about right now and we need to take that on.
Speaker 9: (51:20)
Governor [crosstalk 00:51:21], a question for Representative Mariani.
Governor Tim Walz: (51:23)
Carlos, if you could come on up.
Speaker 9: (51:28)
So I want to make sure that this question is no way misinterpreted to think that Dante Wright should have been killed for any reason, but you described his stop as being pulled over for expired tabs and an air freshener. We know that at some point during the stop the officers learned that there was a warrant for his arrest. As I’ve seen that warrant, it says possession of a firearm and fleeing police. At that moment, presuming that that’s the information the officers got, what in your mind are they supposed to do other than begin to effect an arrest?
Representative Mariani: (52:08)
Officers, in my opinion, are supposed to engage with the citizenry in utmost adherence to respecting human rights and the dignity of other people. So that’s just a big broad.
Representative Mariani: (52:24)
Specifically to this issue, there’s a lot of literature on conventional stops. You’ve got the issue with Philando Castile just a few years ago, that given the brew of a number of issues, including the fact that we live in a society where all of us are infected by the sickness of racism that forms our view of society, of one another pretty quickly can add up to something that even that officer perhaps wasn’t wanting or expecting to happen.
Representative Mariani: (53:12)
I don’t know all the details about Dante’s situation. I know that there were issues about not knowing about the certain warrant. I know that Mr. Wright, the young man, had actually appeared in court on some other issues, so certainly had a history of complying and participating the way a citizen should participate in terms of interacting with the court system and adjudicating whatever issue brought him to the court.
Representative Mariani: (53:58)
The fact remains, however, that none of that was evident at the time at which he was pulled over. That was not why he was pulled over. He was pulled over, and I’ll stand to be corrected, but he was pulled over for a relatively misdemeanor, quite frankly, administrative potential violation.
Representative Mariani: (54:24)
And it seems to me that one of the big questions in our society is, “Do we want armed public agents going out of their way to interact with citizens over administrative potential violations?” I think the answer, and what happened in his situation as well as many others, at the very least is that that is a poor use of our highly trained police officers. And at the very most, that is an invitation in our reality for tragic outcomes.
Representative Mariani: (55:15)
And the fact that it happens repeatedly, not once or twice, but over and over and over again, I think answers the question for us as a people. And the only thing we’ve got to decide now is based on that fact, those facts, what is our will for change and what is our vision of what that could be. There are tons of creative ways of which an expired tab situation could be dealt with far short of having armed police officers pulling individuals over as they did in this case.
Representative Mariani: (55:57)
But it’s a great question. I think it’s the kind of conversation that we need to be fully having. I think that whether you’re the Minnesota House or the Minnesota Senate, you ought to be having this conversation. And if you’re not having a conversation, then, quite frankly, I question whether or not we’re serving the people of Minnesota the way they expect us to serve them.
Speaker 10: (56:28)
I have a question. Oh, sorry. Go ahead. Chair Becker, finish. You were going to …
Jamie Becker-Finn: (56:38)
Jamie Becker-Finn, state representative and chair of the judiciary committee. I do want to clear this up, because the warrant was for a failure to appear. It wasn’t based on him being a danger to anybody. It was failure to show up at a court hearing. And I think it’s important for everyone to note that. Regardless of what the underlying charge was for, that is the fact, that it was for a failure to appear.
Jamie Becker-Finn: (57:00)
And the work that we’ve been doing in our committees since the beginning of the session has dealt with things like that and whether we want to criminalize that kind of behavior. How many of us have missed an appointment? How many of us have forgotten to pay a bill on time? These administrative things that are just part of human life, do we want to criminalize that behavior?
Jamie Becker-Finn: (57:22)
So whether it’s Representative Frazier’s fines and fees reform, whether it’s my bill regarding driver’s license suspensions, we also have a bill that was just heard in a public safety committee from Representative Long regarding warrants and how best do we handle warrants, and do you really need to be picking up all these people when it’s things like failing to appear or failing to pay a fine?
Jamie Becker-Finn: (57:43)
And so I think it’s important that the record reflect that and that we not spin this into something that it isn’t, because the reality is that he was pulled over because of his tabs, because of the air freshener. And then the warrant was for failing to show up at a hearing that he didn’t know about. And so I just think it’s really important that we make note of that as we have this conversation, because there are things we could do and we have the bills, we have the language right now that would have prevented all of that from happening.
Speaker 9: (58:12)
Sure. I just want to clarify that I don’t know what the officers knew, but I know that the warrant that I’ve seen said possession of a firearm, failing to appear, fleeing police. So it did relate to more than just failing to appear.
Jamie Becker-Finn: (58:27)
Right. I’m also a prosecutor, have worked as a prosecutor in Hennepin County. So that was the underlying court hearing, was regarding that. But an officer would know full well that the reason the warrant was issued was the failure to appear. And that was just a reference to the underlying charge.
Speaker 8: (58:52)
Speaker 10: (58:54)
I’m wondering if one or more of you could speak to the traction that you might be hearing from Greater Minnesota around the issue of police accountability. Is there the same desire to make a change outside the Twin Cities?
Tim Miller: (59:16)
State Representative Tim Miller, District 17. And I am Greater Minnesota. Can you repeat the question? I saw the governor going up, and so I honestly waited to hear his answer and didn’t listen to the rest of the question.
Speaker 10: (59:26)
Sure. Just curious to hear what you’re hearing from your constituents. Is there support for accountability reform here or any sort of change?
Tim Miller: (59:39)
I’m going to answer this directly, but it’s delicate, because it’s difficult in a press conference to say it accurately. I think … So it’s going to sound like I’m trying to hedge around it, but I need to give it proper context. I think the people in Minnesota, especially in Greater Minnesota, honestly do believe in words like accountability, honestly do believe in that good people do good things and bad people do bad things.
Tim Miller: (01:00:07)
And where I think that they have difficulty is there’s a distinction. It should be very apparent to everyone that people in Greater Minnesota trust law enforcement in a way that it’s not trusted in other parts. So you have to remember that that’s the context of it.
Tim Miller: (01:00:25)
What I would like to add is I agree with what’s being said fundamentally, that we need to address change. But the challenge that I have with what I’ve heard so far is us as legislators, there are certain things that we can and can’t talk about, because we know they’re going to be on the table or not on the table.
Tim Miller: (01:00:44)
And when it comes to phrases like police reform, I have a very good friend who’s a police chief in Greater Minnesota. I won’t say where, but it’s a pretty significant size town police force. And when things were going on last summer, I asked him. I said, “Dave, what do we do? What do we need to do?” And the first thing out of his mouth was a very touchy subject in this room, and it’s mandatory binding arbitration. And he used that as an example with Derek Chauvin and said, “Here’s a guy who has a long record of not being a good cop, and yet somehow he was still around. He was probably moved around. I don’t know the context of how that worked.”
Tim Miller: (01:01:23)
But an amazing thing he said. He said, “I also know that Officer Chauvin, now convicted of murder, of second degree murder, also did real estate on the side.” And he said, “I just can’t help but think that if we could have used a proper process or a better process to remove him from the police force, that he’d be selling realty right now. He wouldn’t be facing many years in jail and we would not have a dead Black man.”
Tim Miller: (01:01:45)
I think that’s important to understand. So my challenge to everyone here is, if we’re going to talk about the best ways to do this, let’s put it all on the table. We might not arrive at the same decisions. We may not pass legislation that makes everyone happy. But if we’re going to talk about the tough issues, we need to talk about all of the tough issues.
Speaker 8: (01:02:19)
Jamie Becker-Finn: (01:02:24)
And Teddy, real quick, I … Especially in this time where I think Native voices are often being forgotten, even at the CNN level, I do want to speak to the importance of our tribal folks who live in rural communities.
Jamie Becker-Finn: (01:02:39)
And if you look at the statistics around Beltrami County and you look at the history in places like Beltrami County, which is the county that touches Leech Lake, White Earth, and Red Lake, you might get a different answer than some other parts of rural Minnesota. And I think if you talk to my colleagues who represent Morehead, Rochester, Duluth, all of those areas, they’re also demanding change there. And so I do want to speak up for that voice as well as a pr-
Speaker 11: (01:03:03)
… also demanding change there and so I do want to speak up for that voice as well as a provision in our public safety omnibus bill regarding tribal jurisdiction with the Leech Lake Tribal Police Department and the good work that’s being done there. Those are things that we can do and I just want to make sure that those members of rural Minnesota are not forgotten in this conversation.
Speaker 12: (01:03:22)
I just wanted to ask the governor or the speaker, just to clarify, since the immediate aftermath of Daunte Wright’s death, when Governor Walz and Speaker Hortman and the majority leader, each spoke on policing policy, has there been any more meaningful conversations on this topic between the three leaders or has this essentially been a conversation that’s been put on hold since then?
Governor Tim Walz: (01:03:50)
I’ll let the speaker because the administration interacts both ways as it is on this and the legislative branch talks together. I don’t think it’s been meaningful. There have been overtures back and forth, but I think both sides obviously see this very differently. I mean, I do think this perspective matters, as Representative Miller was talking about, Senator Gazelka… I believe him when he says he doesn’t think that there’s a problem here in the system work and we’re trying to say there is, so I don’t know if it’s been that meaningful. I’d like to put into context what Representative Becker-Finn said, just to be clear and going back to what Lieutenant Governor said. Del Shea Perry’s son died in Beltrami County jail and I don’t know how to explain this other than the video of that death was not nine minutes, it was seven days and he laid on the floor of his cell telling them he was in medical emergency and nothing was done for him.
Governor Tim Walz: (01:04:51)
He died over a seven-day period on camera, in that cell, by himself on the floor. I do think we all have this and then I would go to this, the greater Minnesota piece, Representative Miller lives up there. I’ve lived out there. I think it’s important when you get folks who know folks. For me, growing up, my best friend was the sheriff and he borrowed his dad’s car to take us to go somewhere. The interaction with police for a white kid in rural America looked very different and I do think that perspective really matters. As far as the conversation, Speaker, I don’t know. I will let you say on that. You maybe have had some. I would not call them meaningful at this point, for where we’re at.
Melissa Hortman: (01:05:36)
We did have a conversation after Daunte Wright was killed and I think it was an outgrowth of that conversation with the leaders that led Senator Gazelka to commit to having public hearings because, as Senator Gazelka and the governor have relayed, we had a rather intense conversation about how much work has happened in the house and how little work had happened in the senate. I think in response to that Senator Gazelka said that they would undertake that work and we in the house and I think the governor as well, has been waiting for Senator Gazelka to follow through on that.
Speaker 13: (01:06:14)
Governor, Speaker Hortman talked about what to expect from the legislature in the next two weeks. When you talk about burning and using your political capital, what does that actually look like mean? Are you willing to say, for example, that you won’t assign a budget that doesn’t include this? Are there other levers you’re looking to pull because the clock is ticking?
Governor Tim Walz: (01:06:33)
Yeah. There’s other levers. I don’t think it’s ever good to go in and I’ve said this many, many times and been criticized for it. You’ve heard me say it. I don’t draw the red lines before we even start because I think it makes it hard. I’ve asked the legislator and I’ve asked Senator Gazelka to try to not do that. I do think that we can multitask, but I think what you’re hearing from folks here and if you can connect it together here, Representative Frazier was very clear. Don’t use us and our trauma to negotiate a deal on road construction per se. That’s what’s coming out. It doesn’t mean that it has to be that either or because I’ll tell you what Minnesota doesn’t want. They don’t want to see the nonsense of not doing anything and digging in, but it’s very clear. Overwhelmingly with the public, they’d like to see us do something on this and not doing anything, it does make it hard because I’m sure Senator Gazelka will, I’m not a mind reader here, but they always start every conversation on the budget around taxes. If I’m sure he’s going to want to have a tax, a conversation on the fifth tier tax. I’m going to make it clear that we can have that conversation, but we’re also going to have this conversation and the two need to happen together.
Governor Tim Walz: (01:07:44)
At this point in time, I think it’s too early, but the public’s not willing to do this. I am fearful that there’s a run out the clock mentality here. I think that’s what this group would say, there’s a fear of that and that we will just go away. I don’t think any Minnesotan should, for one minute, think that we’ve got trials coming up this summer. We’ve got sentencing coming up in June and God help us if we have another situation. Statistically, we probably will if we don’t make these changes. My point right now is I’m willing to listen, we’re willing to talk. I’m not going to draw the red line in the sand, but I’m very clearly standing in front of this group as they’re telling me, don’t be trying to negotiate something and give away things that aren’t really a negotiating piece. We enter the room where some things should be universal truths. We can find some common ground.
Speaker 14: (01:08:37)
To follow up on that, from the lawmakers who are here. Some of you have put out statements saying no budget without a deal on police accountability. Senator Kent, I think members of your caucus have put out this statement. I don’t think your entire caucus, but some of your caucus. Representative Frazier, you’ve said the same. Representative Frazier for you, do you still agree with that sentiment that you expressed a couple of weeks ago?
Cedrick Frazier: (01:09:04)
Thank you for that question. I’ve been very clear on subsequent conversations after making a statement that my point was to make these reforms and accountability measures a priority. That is still where I stand. These have to be a priority. Mr. Governor just said, the longer we wait and statistically it says in about eight to 12 months a police officer killed someone in this state. That bore out with Daunte Wright and I want to see that stop happening. I believe we have bills in this measure that can prevent those things from happening and I stand very clear, very firm that I want to see those bills move forward as a priority.
Speaker 15: (01:09:47)
Very briefly. I would just say that the most recent statement from the Senate posse caucus talked about prioritizing this particular bill. We have what, 13, 14 omnibus bills that are out there. They’re all going to be handled in individual conference committees, but what they’re asking for is that this one needs to be a priority and I think we can all agree on that.
People are seeing these staggering numbers when it comes to the amount of money going towards settlements, both for the headline cases and for other interactions that we don’t necessarily hear about and also for things related to damage or the police presence that you put out to stop damage. Do you plan to do any kind of accounting on what this police situation has cost us? Also, do you intend to do anything to help communities like Brooklyn Center which are looking at a large settlement that they might not be able to absorb?
Governor Tim Walz: (01:10:49)
I think yes on all those accounts and on this, what it costs. Here’s the thing. Some of you’ve heard me say this many times. I said it when I asked folks to let me run for Congress. We can either spend money building prisons or we can spend money building schools. I would rather build the schools. We can spend money investing in community or we can spend money on this end. It can’t go on. The hellish situation of asking these legislators to fund a deficiency because of the point where we’re at in the biennium. I clearly understood their frustration because I’ve been asking for months to fund summer school so that we don’t have to start giving teacher layoff notices. Oh no. Nothing there, nothing there, but boy, 15 minutes, we moved it on police and that’s, I think, the frustration.
Governor Tim Walz: (01:11:37)
I do think that there’ll be accountability. There’ll be an accountability on actions. We’ll bring in third-party folks who are going to evaluate. I have the ability to influence that change over state agencies like BCA, State Patrol, DNR, National Guard, but we want it to extend further out. What was the other part, Brian, that you wanted?
For cities like Brooklyn Center, which is now looking at a major settlement related to Daunte Wright, depending on how that turns out. They’re not in the same position as a city the size of Minneapolis. Is the legislature and the state going to have to step in to make sure that their taxpayers don’t get-
Governor Tim Walz: (01:12:14)
The law [inaudible 01:12:15] speak on that. I’m not hopeful. I asked for the money and many folks here asked for the money for Lake Street and university and rebuilding, as we saw and there wasn’t really a desire to help. Yes, we have to figure this out because the hellish part of this too is, that very community that feels like they’re not safe with the police and then the actions of the police lead to a payout that they actually all pay for because their property taxes go up because they got no way to pay for it. It’s just a spiral and I think we all need to think about this. I would say, if you need to remove yourself from the moral and ethical imperative of doing some of this, there’s an economic imperative. We cannot continue to spend money.
Governor Tim Walz: (01:12:53)
It is far more cost-effective to send a child to a school where there’s not a gap in learning than it is to send them eventually to corrections and to a state prison. Yes, I think this is all part of it. I would say that not to be detached from this conversation and when we talk about what the end state looks like in this universal deal, I would argue that a big chunk of this reform that we’re talking about is how we use these Rescue Act dollars to close the achievement gap, close the home ownership gap, close the business ownership gap and investments.
Governor Tim Walz: (01:13:26)
I think that’s why the business community too is just encouraging us, do all these things in a package. Fit them all together, but we need to talk about this, that we can’t have these cities bear the brunt alone because it is simply untenable for a city like Brooklyn Center to be able to have the settlement that I think most of us know is coming and rightfully so, to the right family.
Chair Mariani, I have a question for you. This will be a difficult question actually for me, but it’s possibly my last opportunity, so I feel compelled to ask it. As you know, I have a son who died on the streets. He was chronically homeless, chronically addicted. I have another son who is mentally ill. I’ve seen both of them have very, very dangerous encounters with police and they’ve survived them, luckily. I’m wondering if the protections and the human dignity that you’re talking about in your legislation would extend to protect those populations as well or if you get to a point where the [inaudible 01:14:33] community gets some of these protections, is that the next phase in police accountability reform?
Representative Mariani: (01:14:39)
Thank you for that question and observation. You and I have spoken about your sons and my continued wishes for you, for healing and peace with that, Kevin. The work is simultaneous work. I don’t think we set it up for one group as opposed to the other. I think one of the understandings that we have in our caucus as people of color, indigenous legislators, is that we clearly know that the reality of our society is that our very communities are often marginalized, pushed aside and wind up at the end of the line in terms of the benefits of our society, but the response for that isn’t for our communities to rush to the head of the line. The response to that is to create a policy frame where we don’t have people at the end of the line.
Representative Mariani: (01:15:41)
Meeting the human rights and dignity and decency of our communities is consistent with human rights decency for everyone and I think one of the things when we get into intersectional politics you’ll see and I think you’ll see increasingly, is the ability of different advocacy groups, whether they’re working for disabilities issues or for young children, to develop common agendas. [inaudible 01:16:20] is a really good example of that. Very much centered on mental illnesses and very much a race equity focused citizen advocacy group. It is an important question because I think the perception out there is that we have…
Governor Tim Walz: (01:16:40)
… I think really important. I’d like to say thank you to the press. You were patient with your time today, but it’s an important topic. It’s obviously going to shape negotiations now, but more importantly, we keep saying it, this group keep saying it, it’s going to shape Minnesota for generations to come. This is a moment to truly say, everyone’s welcome here. Everyone’s valued. This is a place to raise your children. The best in the country and that needs to mean everyone and this is a step towards that. There’s a lot of moving pieces happening with negotiations, but this one we have the potential here and I think there’s legislators here who are speaking for their community. There’s legislators here that are standing humbly in front of the people they represent, to try and come to a workable solution.
Governor Tim Walz: (01:17:24)
I appreciate all of you and I would just add as a note to all of you, as we work on this model policy around first amendment, there’s going to be the need to actively engage both from a 40,000 foot level of publishers and editors, but also to the folks who are actually covering these stories on the ground and things that will make that better, so that Minnesota does become the place where press freedom and the ability to tell the stories around these important things is the air we breathe. Those suggestions, those points, those insights, we’re really going to be looking for. As we talked about, that’s going to be a process. That process needs to include the voices on the ground. With that, thank you all and thank you legislators.