The Status of Justice Reform in Minnesota

This is the start of an ongoing series of news items related to how justice reform is moving in Minnesota.

Pending: Defining Sexual Assault

As we reported in an April story, one of the legislative bills this session involves a variety of measures to redefine sexual assault. “When the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Francios Momolu Khalil in March, it brought national attention — such as a Washington Post article — to a Minnesota statute (609.341) that requires that a victim of rape must be involuntarily intoxicated in order to be considered ‘mentally incapacitated.’

The Khalil case said that, because the victim consumed alcohol willingly and became intoxicated, she was not mentally incapacitated by statute definition. Khalil was not guilty of rape because of this technicality.

Currently the legislation is still held up and will be decided in omnibus budget conversations by committee leaders behind the scenes.

Find the full story here.

Action Alert: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives

Our April issue was focused on the MMIR crisis in Minnesota, with Sen. Mary Kunesh pointing out the need for a small department that would keep attention on the issue, collect data, and work toward solutions. Gov. Walz suggested $1 million over two years for this office. The legislature has not yet approved this in its negotiations.

If you want to lend support for the development of this office, read more here.

From Minnesota Reformer

June 4 Deadline: Legislative Session 

Under the budget agreement, June 4 is the deadline to finalize language on any new policy changes that will need approval from both legislative leaders and the governor, leaving the House DFL and Senate GOP to bridge massive differences in efforts to approve new police reform measures. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said his caucus would “remain committed to not passing anything that is anti-police or makes the job of law enforcement more difficult.”

House Democrats, however, say the recent killing of Daunte Wright by ex-Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter demonstrates a need to end certain practices like so-called pretextual police stops. That’s when a person is pulled over for a minor violation with the intent to search their car for contraband — a practice that disproportionately affects Black Minnesotans and has led to deadly encounters like in the Wright case. 
Find full Minnesota Reformer story here

Opinion: Police Reform

“I wish as a young officer on patrol I had known what I know now: That pretextual stops don’t protect public safety, they just divert public safety resources, keep people of color from trusting the police, and risk injury and death for motorists and officers alike. It is time for Minnesota to pass legislation that eliminates these counterproductive stops and improves law enforcement’s ability to keep us all safe.”
— Diane Goldstein, executive director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership
Find full Minnesota Reformer story here

Alternative to Policing: Peacekeeping Community Groups  

According to Sasha Cotton, director of the Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention, Minneapolis awarded $1 million in contracts to seven community organizations to provide “positive outreach and support” during and after the trials of Derek Chauvin and his three fellow former police officers charged in the death of Floyd. Cotton said after hearing that some of the same groups were in Brooklyn Center, she made clear to them that they couldn’t charge Minneapolis for that work. 

The Minneapolis contracts — which run through the end of the year — are with A Mothers Love, the Center for Multicultural Mediation, Native American Community Development Institute, the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization and T.O.U.C.H. Outreach, Change Equals Opportunity, Restoration Inc. and We Push for Peace.
Find full Minnesota Reformer story here 

From North News

May 15: Brooklyn Center Passes Police Reform

At a special meeting of the City Council of Brooklyn Center, the council passed a resolution that creates a framework for advancing a series of reforms in policing and public safety in the city. The vote was in response to the Brooklyn Center police killing of unarmed 20-year-old Wright, killed during a low-level traffic stop for expired license plate tags and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. 

Kobe Dimock-Heisler was killed Aug. 31, 2019 by Brooklyn Center police responding to being in mental crisis. The 21-year-old was autistic. His fatal encounter resulted in him being shot six times – once in the head. Amity Dimock, mother of Dimock-Heisler agreed that the resolution was too late to save her son, but could help prevent future such tragedies. “After 12 minutes of complying with officers he (Dimock-Heiser) got up and ran because he didn’t want to be in the situation and when he did he was tasered and shot six times including once in the head.”
Find full North News story here