During a debate over a police accountability bill last week, a handful of lawmakers didn't have to say a word to show where they stood on the issue.
Republicans in the DFL-led House Public Safety Committee changed their Zoom backgrounds on Thursday to pictures of them posing with members of law enforcement in their communities. Rep. Brian Johnson, R-Cambridge, used a pro-police thin blue line flag for his background.
The committee was discussing a bill to require law enforcement to release unedited body camera recordings of deadly force incidents to victims' family members within 48 hours of the incident.
"I think in the long run it's actually going to hurt the victims in some of these situations," said Johnson, a former police officer, who noted privacy concerns.
Rep. John Thompson, DFL-St. Paul, the sponsor of the bill, initially sat in his legislative office flanked by artist renderings of Philando Castile and George Floyd. Castile, fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop, was a friend of his.
After seeing the GOP Zoom backgrounds, Thompson switched his to a photo of Martin Luther King Jr. being arrested by police.
"I'm not saying that all police officers are bad," he said. "But the bad ones are making the good ones look very bad."
The committee approved the proposal on a party-line vote.