A Minneapolis commission seeking to issue a statement about Derek Chauvin's trial finally settled on one — after city lawyers persuaded it to avoid references to George Floyd and the court proceedings.
Last week, as the jury was deliberating, the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission voted to issue a statement encouraging peaceful protests, exhorting city leaders and police to prioritize de-escalation, and condemning police brutality and white supremacy.
Missing was an earlier version of the introductory statement that said "the world is focused on the upcoming trial associated with the killing of George Floyd" and the trial "represents a critical moment for civil rights for Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota."
The volunteer commissioners had jockeyed for weeks over the wording in the statement — which had prompted concerns in the city attorney's office.
Susan Trammell, an attorney for the city, had advised the commission not to issue their earlier statement, citing in part Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill's remarks that he wished city officials would stop discussing the case. She also said she believed the commission and its task forces lacked the authority to issue press statements.
During the meeting last week, Commissioner Mark Stignani rejected the idea that the body lacks authority to issue public statements. Nevertheless, he suggested they amend the statement.
"I do concur with the city attorney that we don't want to impact a trial," he said, adding later: "Let's make this about giving people freedom to file complaints and know where to put their votes, as well as their complaints."
Commissioner Ken Rance, who suggested they address the trial in the first place, asked if they could quickly release their statement if they did "sanitize" it "for lack of a better euphemism."
Ultimately, he and other commissioners agreed to make the changes.
The commission also voted to dissolve its Accountability for the Killing of George Floyd Task Force, created for the purpose of issuing statements during the trial.
Liz Navratil • 612-673-4994