All Minnesotans deserve safe and vibrant communities, and Minnesotans across race, faith and place are coming together to demand that we respect black lives. This togetherness is what we must show the nation and the world.
We have seen things these last few weeks that we can’t unsee.
We saw a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd until he died, another unarmed black man dying at the hands of someone sworn to protect him. We saw huge multiracial protests. We also saw Minneapolis on fire.
On Thursday, June 4, I joined other legislators for a walking tour of the neighborhoods in Minneapolis and St. Paul with the most damage. On Lake Street, buildings are reduced to rubble, steel beams are melted and warped from the heat of the fires. Signs remain on plywood covering the windows saying, “families live here,” and “black-owned business.”
My colleagues who represent the damaged districts consistently spoke of the evolution of the protests. At first they were peaceful, and then as more people from outside the neighborhoods came in, fires and destruction consumed black- and immigrant-owned businesses that are the heartbeat of those communities. Shauen Pearce, the economic development and inclusion policy director of Minneapolis told us, “I literally had the KKK marching by my house.”
With all we have seen, the images of Minnesotans coming together show us a hopeful path forward. We have seen Minnesotans coming together across race and place to stand with black and brown communities in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Our care for one another has been expressed as Minnesotans have protested together, cleaned up together, and volunteered together to give and deliver food and medicine.
Minnesotans and people across the nation are crying out for a different future. We want a future that works for everyone, a future where black and brown communities feel safe, secure, and honored.
We want the healing work we need to do as a state and nation to begin. This healing work begins as we see ourselves in one another despite our differences, and we link our arms and our shared interest to solve our biggest problems.
The Legislature is in a special session, and this moment demands political imagination and brave conversation. We must listen to the stories of those who have experienced police brutality because of the color of their skin. We will debate a reimagining of public safety for the sake of honoring black lives, and we will also discuss how we fund vibrant communities anywhere and everywhere.
We improve public safety when everyone has affordable housing, access to health care and mental health treatment, food security, excellent schools, and more. Reimagining public safety is also about reimagining our lives together.
We all have a stake in this future. It is time to leave the politics of fear and division behind, and take steps together to create a Minnesota where everyone can breathe, move, and thrive, no exceptions.