A group of Minnesota Democrats want to pass new restrictions on the state’s police departments following the shooting death of Daunte Wright – and they’re threatening to shut down the government in order to get their way.
The move by a dozen Democratic lawmakers from the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus comes as legislators look ahead to a July 1 deadline for passing the next state budget, FOX 9 of Minneapolis reported.
If a spending plan isn’t approved by that date, the state government will shut down, according to the station.
State Republicans have already agreed to hold hearings on police accountability in the coming weeks but are not promising any changes to police policies, FOX 9 reported.
“I’m not promising that we’re going to do more reform,” GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka told the station. “I’m promising to listen to see if something is warranted.”
“I’m not promising that we’re going to do more reform. I’m promising to listen to see if something is warranted.”
Police changes passed in 2020, after the police-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, seemed sufficient, Gazelka told reporters earlier in the week, FOX 9 reported.
The state’s two top Democrats – Speaker Melissa Hortman and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler – did not endorse the POCI plan outright, saying only “our caucus will work together to determine our next steps,” according to FOX 9.
On Wednesday morning, members of POCI gathered outside police headquarters in Brooklyn Center, the Twin Cities suburb where Wright was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop on Sunday. The officer who police say fired the shot has resigned and was free on bond Wednesday night after being arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter.
“We don’t want fact-finding hearings, we want them to pass legislation,” state Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, a Democrat from Minneapolis, said at the news conference. She claimed Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, was “ready to support” the POCI proposals.
Walz spokesman Teddy Tschann told FOX 9 the governor backed some portions of the plan, including creating a fund for supporting the family members of police shooting victims and bolstering community oversight of local forces.
According to FOX 9, the POCI lawmakers – members of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party – say they want to see numerous changes made to police policies and procedures in the state.
For example, the lawmakers want a ban on traffic stops for vehicle equipment violations, such as excessive window tinting or busted tail lights. They’re also calling for limits on the use of so-called “no-knock” warrants.
The Democrats also are calling for an end to qualified immunity, which shields police officers from facing civil lawsuits in many situations.
The lawmakers also want police throughout the state to use standardized procedures regarding crowd control, according to FOX 9.
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