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 join our community in grief and outrage over the murder of George Floyd. No family should experience the pain his loved ones are feeling, and no Minnesotan should fear for their safety because of what they look like. 

In the past month, hundreds of thousands of people have come together to call for justice for George Floyd and all the people who’ve been killed or harmed by police officers. Many Minnesotans joined peaceful marches, vigils and demonstrations in their own communities and in the Twin Cities. Similar events took place across the nation and even in other countries. It was deeply moving to see so many people raising their voices and demanding that we respect Black lives. 

Minnesotans also came together to support our Twin Cities neighbors in the days and weeks after George Floyd was killed. People from every corner of the state came to clean up and gathered food, medicine, and supplies for communities in need. Minnesotans care about each other, and we want to live in a state where everyone can thrive, regardless of race, faith, or place. 

In order to build a Minnesota that works for everyone, we need to rethink our approach to public safety and criminal justice. In response to George Floyd’s death, lawmakers in the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus unveiled a legislative agenda to help ensure all Minnesotans can be safe in their communities. It includes bills to ensure police officers are held accountable for officer-involved deaths and wrongful actions, repair and build trust between officers and the communities they serve, modify use-of-force laws to prevent wrongful deaths,  and create a duty to intervene when unreasonable force is used. Other measures would move us towards a community-centered approach to public safety, which means investing in mental health services and community-based intervenors and problem solvers who can partner with local police officers. I stand firmly with my POCI Caucus colleagues, and I agree that these long overdue reforms should be a top priority. I’ll work with other legislators and members of our community to pass legislation that’s needed now and in the future.  

Enacting public safety and criminal justice reforms is the first step towards fundamental change, but much more needs to be done. We must address persistent inequalities in other areas of our society, including education, housing, and the workforce. We need to acknowledge that racism still exists in our own community and in our state and that it’ll take all of us coming together as Minnesotans to fight it. I know it won’t be easy, but I hope all of us can commit to learning more, having conversations with other community members and standing together in solidarity – even when it’s difficult or uncomfortable.  

While the past few weeks have been difficult, they’ve demonstrated just how much Minnesotans can accomplish when we work together. I believe in the power of collective action, and I’ve seen our community come together to tackle enormous challenges in the past. I remain confident that we can create a better future for every person in Minnesota, no exceptions.

 

Ami Wazlawik represents District 38B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. She can be reached at 651-296-3018 or rep.ami.wazlawik@house.mn.

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