Activists put state lawmakers on notice Wednesday afternoon outside the Hennepin County Government Center, saying the murder trial for fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin underscores the urgency of passing bills about police accountability.
"We need not only justice inside this courthouse, but we need it outside," said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"Nothing has fundamentally changed in Minnesota to the point that police officers can be held accountable and actually be deterred from police brutality."
A coalition of activists, including the Minnesota Justice Coalition and Communities United Against Police Brutality, asked the state Legislature to pass eight bills related to police accountability.
Among the proposals are: a bill that would end qualified immunity for police officers; a bill that would regulate no-knock search warrants; a bill that would require local governments to establish citizen oversight panels; and a bill that would require police officers to get professional liability insurance.
"With these bills we can start the process and ensure a system that provides transparency, accountability and justice," said Johnathon McClellan, president of the Minnesota Justice Coalition.
"If we fail to do the right thing, the state of Minnesota — the state that created the environment with their actions, or lack thereof, for George Floyd to be murdered on our streets — will make them complicit in any future murders in our state. Minnesota cannot just Pontius Pilate its way out of its responsibility."
Although activists focused on calling out Republicans such as Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka for inaction since Floyd's death, they did not leave out Democrats, saying Democrats in the House have refused to move bills forward despite grandstanding about police accountability.
After Floyd's death, longtime activist Michelle Gross said she told a number of politicians that change must come and soon.
"You cannot put this genie back in the bottle," Gross said. "But this is exactly what they are attempting to do. … The people that are trying to stop those improvements [in law enforcement], they are dinosaurs."
Reid Forgrave • 612-673-4647