Monday, June 29, 2020People of Color and Indigenous Caucus
Minnesota House of Representatives
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Thomas Olsen
June 9, 2020
POCI Caucus Response to Sen. Gazelka’s Comments on Special Session, Criminal Justice Reform
SAINT PAUL - The members of the Minnesota Legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus issued the following statement in response to Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka’s comments regarding criminal justice reform and the upcoming special session:
“We express our extreme disappointment in Senator Gazelka’s comments during his June 5th media availability in which he stated criminal justice reform legislation will not be considered during the upcoming special session.
“Our proposed reforms in response to the death of Mr. George Floyd -- an act that has brought Minnesotans of all races and cultures together to express their refusal to accept that inhumanity and has shocked citizens across our nation and indeed, the world -- are the result of a great deal of work with numerous community members, reform experts, and multiple stakeholders both in and outside of law enforcement. These reforms are important, deeply needed and have been well researched and well thought out.
“We believe Minnesotans want us to act boldly and with urgency. They also know better than to accept Sen. Gazelka’s disingenuous attempt to paint our collective desire for a better way to advance public safety as merely a ‘Minneapolis problem.’ They know this is a systemic issue that harms neighborhoods across our state and our country. We join our fellow Minnesotans in rejecting Sen. Gazelka’s obstruction to ending police brutality and impeding ways to create true change.
“If criminal justice reform is not included in this special session, then we do not wish to have a special session at all. It is time to break down structural racism and fundamentally reshape how law enforcement interacts with our communities to ensure there can be accountability and justice. We can’t wait any longer.”
The People of Color & Indigenous (POCI) Caucus includes Reps. Jamie Becker-Finn (42B), Aisha Gomez (62B), Hodan Hassan (62A), Kaohly Her (64A), Mary Kunesh-Podein (41B), Fue Lee (59A), Alice Mann (56B), Carlos Mariani (65B), Rena Moran (65A), Mohamud Noor (60B), Ruth Richardson (52B), Samantha Vang (40B), Jay Xiong (67B), Tou Xiong (53B), and Sens. Melisa Franzen (49), Foung Hawj (67), Jeff Hayden (62), Bobby Joe Champion (59), and Patricia Torres Ray (63).
Recent News for Rep. Jay Xiong
ABOUT THE LEGISLATURE
Friday, June 19, 2020
Early this morning, on Juneteenth, the Minnesota House passed the Minnesota Police Accountability Act of 2020, a package of legislation focused on reimagining and reforming public safety that was brought forward by the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus.
This is a crucial time in our state and Minnesotans are calling on us to do the hard work to enact meaningful reforms now. Without strong accountability measures, people in Black, Indigenous, and communities of color will continue to lack the justice they deserve. This is unacceptable, and we call on Senate Republicans to partner with us to seize this moment and deliver true public safety.
The legislation we passed includes the following:
Reclaiming Community OversightPutting power into the hands of the people and neighborhoods that police officers are sworn to serve and protect.
Reforming AccountabilityRestoring confidence and trust in the systems that are meant to provide justice for all Minnesotans.
Re-Imagining Public SafetyEnding the unacceptable culture that is responsible for the murder of George Floyd and far too many others who look like him.
Also today, Governor Walz issued a proclamation to officially recognize June 19, 2020 as Juneteenth Freedom Day in the State of Minnesota to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. Governor Walz is also calling on the legislature to work with community to establish a state holiday recognizing Juneteenth.
My colleagues Rep. Ruth Richardson, Hodan Hassan and Mohamud Noor have offered a House Resolution that would recognize June 19 officially as Juneteenth.
We also passed the PROMISE (Providing Resources, Opportunity and Maximizing Investments in Striving Entrepreneurs) Act. The legislation is a comprehensive plan to help businesses rebuild and recover, many of which are owned by Black Minnesotans, immigrants, and people of color. The goal is to preserve the unique character of the impacted commercial and cultural corridors, continue their position as a place for small businesses to emerge and develop, and to keep the community vision central to redevelopment. Specifically, the plan would:
Assistance for Small BusinessThe first bill we approved last Friday and has since been signed into law by the governor created a $62.5 million fund for small business grants. Businesses with 50 or fewer employees can receive grants up to $10,000 each. This is a significant initiative that will provide our local businesses with the assistance they need to stay afloat during these difficult times. Of the $62.5 million total, there are several carve-outs:
Additional Local Opportunities to Help the EastsideMany in our community are still struggling with food and basic supply security. If you are interested in making a donation, the following Give Minnesota fundraisers have been set up and are ready to receive monetary contributions:
Southeast Community Organization has set up new healthcare product distribution site at the Shamrock Plaza Mosque. This is relatively new, and they’ve started to ask for donations.
Here’s what’s needed:
Keep in TouchPlease don’t hesitate to reach out at email@example.com with questions or input. I always appreciate helping when I can.
It’s an honor to represent out Eastside community at the Capitol.
Friday, June 12, 2020Dear Neighbors,
Today, the Minnesota Board of Pardons, which consists of the Governor, Attorney General, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, granted the state's first posthumous pardon to Max Mason, who was wrongfully convicted in connection with the lynching of three innocent black men in Duluth. Governor Walz noted that the pardon was 100 years overdue, and acknowledged importance of grappling with Minnesota's history of racism.
The Minnesota Historical Society has informational resources and is planning online events related to the Duluth Lynchings, which occurred this week in 1920. This is a reminder that injustices – like what happened to George Floyd – aren’t new, and pain and trauma has existed for generations.
Following a proclamation from Governor Tim Walz, the Minnesota Legislature convened in special session today at noon. Among other priorities, my colleagues and I in the House will work to reach consensus on items unfinished in the regular session, and enact criminal justice reforms following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Specifically, House DFLers are focused on these major areas:
Economic Relief for BusinessesAs I write this, I’m pleased to report our first order of business today was approving legislation that to deliver $62.5 million in grants for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill – which includes $60 million from the federal CARES Act – focuses on Minnesota’s smallest businesses, many of which are not as well-connected with private banks, and that were required to operate at 50 percent capacity or less as of May 18.
If you would like to help eastside business owners to rebuild their storefronts, restock inventory, and reopen their businesses, you can contribute to the Eastside Business Assistance Fund. 100% of the funds raised will be used to directly support businesses. Priority will be given to immigrant and POC-owned businesses and those most impacted.
The Eastside Business Assistance Fund is a group consisting of residents, community organizations, business associations, and philanthropic partners including the other media group, EastSide Area Business Association, Payne Arcade Paba, Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center and more. If you are an eastside business owner that sustained damage, a link will be available soon to apply.
Police Reform and AccountabilityThis special session also gives us the opportunity to pass needed racial justice & police accountability legislation that has been led by People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) legislators and community members--The Minnesota Police Accountability Act 2020. This package will reform accountability, reclaim community oversight, and re-imagine public safety. Tomorrow, the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee will hold an in-depth hearing to review and vet these proposals:
• Data Practices Modifications for Peace Officers
• Retroactive Repeal of Statutes of Limitations
• Warrior Training Prohibited
• Choke Hold Ban
• Duty to Intercede
• Police Residency Reform
• Data Collection and Regulatory Reform/etc.
• Arbitration Reform
• Law Enforcement Oversight Council Reform
• Use of Force Reform
• Prosecutorial Reform
• Investigatory Reform
• Cash Bail
• Public Safety Peer Counseling Debriefing
• Police Officer Critical Incident Review
• Community Led Public Safety
• Mental Health Training
• Autism Training
• Restore the Vote
If you would like to testify, please sign up with the committee staff. Jason Chavez can be reached at Jason.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food Pick-Up Event- June 17The Southeast St. Paul Community Organization, the Sanneh Foundation, and St. Paul Public Schools is hosting a food pick-up event next Wednesday, June 17 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. at Harding High School. If you or someone you know could use a meal, fresh produce and groceries will be available for drive-by pick-up. Check out the flyer below for more details.
Keep in TouchSpecial session is expected to continue over the course of next week, if not longer. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with ideas, suggestions, or questions anytime. I’m here to help if you need any assistance at email@example.com.
Thank you for the honor of representing you and elevating eastside voices at the state legislature.
Monday, June 08, 2020
All of us are horrified by the murder of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, and we are seeking answers about how we will move forward as a state from this point in history. We cannot "go back to normal" as some desire — because "normal" has not been working for far too many people.
The peaceful demonstrations of our First Amendment rights and spontaneous clean ups, food drives, fundraising campaigns, and works of art show exactly who we are as a community: neighbors caring for neighbors. We care about one another and we are going to help each other rebuild and move forward to create real change.
The Legislature is expected to convene for a special session June 12th. My top priority is passing racial justice & police accountability legislation that has been shaped by our community members and People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) legislators. Our cities also need economic aid to repair badly damaged and completely destroyed businesses, many of which are Black-owned and immigrant-owned.
The following package of legislation is intended as a first step from this moment on. I am committed to reforms that hold police officers accountable for their actions, move us towards a community-centered approach to public safety, and ultimately bring forth justice for everyone --black, brown, Asian, white, & indigenous.
1) Reform the investigation and prosecution of officer-involved deaths and wrongful actions
2) Increase police accountability and transparency
3) Raise standards of conduct and support officer excellence
4) Partner officers with the communities they serve
5) Repair and build community trust and create community-centered public safety
I don’t have all the answers right now, but I know that our community is strong and that by working together we will create a better world for all. Most importantly, our work must be guided by black & brown voices. We are relying on these voices as we have more conversations around urgently needed law changes and updates. For more information about upcoming hearings, please visit the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee’s website.
Our work doesn’t stop with police reform; we need bold legislation to address the systemic racism – a holistic approach that attacks disparities in education, health care, housing, jobs/economic development, immigration, and environmental justice. My POCI colleagues will be holding conversation with our communities of color to ensure bills reflect our communities.
More than 360 businesses across the Twin Cities have been vandalized, looted or had doors and windows smashed. Some have been reduced to rubble, and at least 66 have been destroyed completely by fire. Others have reported extensive water damage or severe fire damage. I participated in a walking tour yesterday to survey areas hardest hit as a result of the rioting with my House and Senate colleagues.
Independently throughout the week, I spent time in our district and spoke with several community and business leaders on the Eastside. A big thank you to Indigenous Roots, Urban Roots, Southeast St. Paul Community, and the Sanneh Foundation for their help during times of need – food and nourishment for community. I also had an opportunity to deliver food for homebound community members as well.
Minnesota House Jobs and Economic Development Remote HearingThis week, the Minnesota House Jobs and Economic Development Finance Committee, of which I’m member, held a remote informational meeting to discuss additional measures in which we can find more ways to provide economic relief to Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of these was a bill that would provide small business grants to struggling mom and pop shops that are struggling to stay afloat.
Another bill on the agenda would provide unemployment insurance benefits to 18-year-old high school students who have been out of work since the governor’s executive orders have been in place. Many families in our community rely on their children to bring in additional income and ensuring they could be eligible for UI would be a significant step forward for protecting Eastsiders’ economic security. Although the committee hearing was informational in nature, I will advocate for these economic relief initiatives to be included in a future special session. The Minnesota Children’s Defense Fund shared their testimony of support, and you can see their remarks here.
Southeast Community Peace VigilI hope you can join community members for a Peace Vigil at 10:00 a.m. at Conway Park (2090 Conway Street St. Paul) tomorrow to hear words of strength and hope from our local spiritual leaders. There will also be a peace celebration from 3:00-5:00 p.m. at Conway Park. If attending, please plan on wearing a mask and be prepared to socially distance in the park.
Keep in TouchPlease contact me anytime with questions, input, or to let me know how I can be of assistance to you and your family during these difficult times. I am always happy to help whenever I can.
Thank you for the honor of serving our Eastside community at the state legislature.