Skip to main content

Minnesota Senate to hold hearings on Twin Cities riots

DFLers upset, call for criminal justice reforms instead.

The Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate will be holding hearings on the aftermath and unrest following George Floyd's death, but Democrats are saying if Republicans are concerned about accountability, they should instead be focused on passing criminal justice reforms. 

On Thursday, the one-month anniversary of Floyd's death by Minneapolis police, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, announced that starting July 1, a Senate Oversight Committee will hold hearings focused on the state and local responses to the days of unrest following Floyd's May 25 killing. 

"We all witnessed the destruction of businesses – some in broad daylight – with no police response and the question was, 'Who decided the looters would be allowed to do that?'" Gazelka said, also mentioning the destruction of the 3rd Precinct and the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue at the state Capitol, asking who allowed these things to happen? 

"I think the public demands answers," Gazelka said. "And that's why we want to hold these hearings and also because if we wait too long we begin to forget what happened and when."

Gazelka said Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, will chair the committee and will announce in the coming days the other committee members and the layout of the hearing process.

Senate won't have hearings on Floyd's death

Gazelka said Thursday the Senate won't hold hearings on Floyd's death.

"I think there's enough people looking at the actual death of George Floyd and the city of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department that we don't need to spend time in that direction," Gazelka said, noting the Minnesota Attorney General and state Department of Human Rights are investigating. 

"I think we're fine there," Gazelka added. "Nobody's talking about what went wrong and the steps that happened from the death of George Floyd forward." 

POCI Caucus, DFLers call for criminal justice reforms

Members of the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus in the Minnesota Legislature responded to Gazelka's announcement, saying if oversight of law enforcement is the goal, Republicans should advance criminal justice reforms instead. 

The caucus' full statement reads: 

“If oversight of law enforcement is the goal, Senate Republicans must quickly join the POCI Caucus to advance real criminal justice reforms. Why – five days after Senate Republicans walked away from this serious work – hasn’t Senator Gazelka yet responded to the House’s counteroffer during the special session to meet demands of the people for police accountability?

“There will be time to address the civil unrest that occurred in the days following George Floyd’s senseless killing, but the work to enact transformative, systemic changes within law enforcement is urgent, and Black, Indigenous, and communities of color can’t wait any longer for change. Senate Republicans have a duty to resume these critical discussions right now, or status quo systems that have failed Minnesotans for generations will continue to prevail.”

Meanwhile, Senate DFL Leader Susan Kent called this "deeply discouraging and troubling."

"It is deeply discouraging and troubling to see Senate Republicans prioritize hearings that completely fail to address racial disparities within our criminal justice system. They should instead prioritize hearings on the POCI Caucus-led proposal to keep systems accountable," Kent said. "Minnesotans statewide are asking us to do our jobs and take meaningful action. The one informational hearing on weak proposals doesn't cut it. It is now abundantly clear they were never really interested in passing critical legislation."

The Minnesota Legislature during a Special Session earlier this month failed to pass police reforms, with the House and Senate unable to come to an agreement on them despite it being a priority during the special session.

Next Up

summit beach park orono

Plan to develop Orono park on hold after Daytons object

The Dayton family donated the land to the city for the park in the 1970s.

covid nurse doctor hospital wikimedia commons

Child from Twin Cities, school staff member die from COVID

Both deaths were reported by the Minnesota Department of Health Thursday.

snow

3 clippers will deliver snow to Minnesota through Tuesday

Clippers move through Friday night, Saturday night and again Monday.

Screen Shot 2022-01-20 at 10.45.51 AM

Video: Inebriated Sheriff Dave Hutchinson after high-speed crash

Hutchinson was unaware of his location and repeatedly said he wasn't driving.

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Thursday, January 20

A Mayo Clinic data scientists believes omicron may have already peaked in parts of Minnesota, though that reality won't show up in the reported cases until at least next week.

hospital, emergency room

2 dead, 1 critical after being found unconscious in garage

The men were believed to have been drinking together and possibly using drugs.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

2 teens suspected in 20 robberies arrested after police chase

They are suspects in 23 cases in three Twin Cities counties.

Dave Hutchinson

Hennepin Co. Sheriff was driving 125 mph before DWI crash, files reveal

Taken together, the files provide a clearer picture of what exactly happened the morning of Dec. 8.

Pixabay - casino slot machines

Canadian man pleads guilty to sexually abusing children at MN casino

Brady John Hillis, 32, pleaded guilty two counts of abusive sexual contact with a child under 12.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Exchange of shoes sold online results in theft, shots fired

The victim had initially arranged to sell a pair of shoes to the suspect on an online marketplace.

plow, snowplow, snow

Michigan beats Minnesota to 'Betty Whiteout' snowplow nickname

There is one BIG difference between the Michigan and Minnesota snowplow contests.

kacey musgraves

Kacey Musgraves gives shoutout to Minneapolis vintage store

The country music star was in the Twin Cities kicking off her latest tour.

Related

State Capitol.

DFLers demand more police reform, GOP says it'll hold hearings on proposals

Democrats have been calling for change since Daunte Wright's death, and now Republicans say they'll hold hearings on bills but haven't made promises it'll lead to anything getting passed.

paul gazelka

'Cop out': Senate GOP leader under fire for cancelling police reform hearings

Senate Maj. Leader Paul Gazelka retracted support for such hearings.

flickr-mn-capitol-building-nov-2018

MN Senate passes public safety bill without DFL-backed police reform measures

Democrats say the bill doesn't do enough to address police accountability.

paul gazelka

MN Senate GOP takes steps to keep majority in case of a Klobuchar cabinet position

Paul Gazelka introduced a motion Tuesday to make independent Sen. David Tomassoni president pro tempore of the Senate.

gazelka paul

Gazelka demands Dem apology to Minnesotans, suburban moms

The Republican slammed their leadership during the riots.

paul gazelka

Gazelka's 'I've always said COVID-19 is serious' tweet raises eyebrows

The Senate Majority Leader has attracted plenty of attention for a Thursday tweet.

paul gazelka

Walz furious as Daudt, Gazelka avoid denouncing false election claims during forum

The governor accused the Republican legislative leaders of "epic gaslighting."