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.