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St. Paul police chief wants slavery clause out of Minnesota's Constitution

The clause states slavery may be used as a 'punishment for a crime of which the party has been convicted.'
Todd axtell

St. Paul's police chief has revealed a unique New Years resolution: to bring attention to a problematic phrase in the Minnesota Constitution.

St. Paul Police Department Chief Todd Axtell welcomed the new year with a Facebook post Tuesday. Axtell pointed out a clause in the state's Constitution he feels “troubled” by.

The clause makes reference to slavery, stating it may be allowed in specific circumstances.

The clause, found in Article I, Section 2 reads:

“There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the state otherwise than as punishment for a crime of which the party has been convicted."

"Slavery is not a Minnesota value," Axtell wrote.

“This document, the original of which is kept right here in Saint Paul, is wonderful in so many ways. It protects our rights, defines and limits government power, and guides us as we address emerging issues and concerns," he added.

"It’s also supposed to reflect our values. And here in Minnesota, they include equity, freedom and respect for all people. It’s time we amend our constitution to make that clear.”

"Words matter. That’s why I’m making it my 2020 resolution to raise awareness of this clause to ignite a movement among people who care about doing what’s right—a movement to champion an amendment removing slavery from the Minnesota State Constitution."

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