Police reform moving slowly in Congress, Minnesota Legislature

By the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death, there was hope significant police reform legislation would pass the legislature in Minnesota and nationally in Congress. Legislation did pass the Minnesota House and Senate that was signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz, but many Democrats didn’t think it went far enough. Neither do families and friends of people who’ve died during encounters with police.

"These bills need to be passed because if they’re not there’s going to be another Daunte [Wright] or another name behind hashtags and we’re not okay with that," says Katie Wright, mother of Daunte Wright, who was shot by a Brooklyn Center police officer. She appeared along with dozens of other family members at a rally near the front steps of the State Capitol.

Last year the legislature passed several measures, including a ban on chokeholds and "warrior" training for police, plus more police training for dealing with people with mental health issues and new reporting requirements for when police use force.

This year, the Democratic-controlled House passed a bill that, among other things, limits reasons police can pull over drivers; limits the use of "no-knock" warrants; requires quicker release of body cam video to families of people shot by police and prohibits officers from belonging to extremist groups.

So far, the Republican-controlled Senate hasn’t held hearings on police reform but has promised to consider bills in a special session this summer.

"This pain is like no other for all of us. We all share it. All these families we all feel this every day," said George Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, who also spoke at the Capitol rally.

Although President Joe Biden called for police reform in Congress by today’s anniversary, that didn’t happen. The Democratic-controlled U.S. House passed a bill banning chokeholds and limiting use of "no-knock" warrants," but the U.S. Senate is moving more slowly. One main point of contention is a proposal to eliminate "qualified immunity," which shields officers from being sued individually.