ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives on Tuesday, April 27, approved $7.8 million for Minnesota State Patrol and out-of-state law enforcement groups called in to police Minneapolis and St. Paul during the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer.
On a 52-15 vote in the Senate and 107-25 vote in the House, legislators approved the proposal that would put $6.3 million toward the Minnesota State Patrol and Department of Natural Resources conservation officers, while $1.5 million would be used to pay back Nebraska and Ohio law enforcement sent in to back up police groups here following the Hennepin County jury's verdict.
Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday evening signed the bill into law, approving the funds to be sent out to the various law enforcement agencies.
Legislative leaders and the governor had started planning for the emergency funds months ago but disagreements in the Statehouse stalled out several proposals. Then last week, the Senate approved a $9 million plan before the final costs were hashed out.
One day later, a Hennepin County jury convicted ex-officer Derek Chauvin of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd. The verdict reduced tension in the Twin Cities and spurred state and local police groups to roll back their presence in Minneapolis.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said the state and local police groups planned for protest and emergency response ahead of the trial and jury verdict, preventing another bout of civil unrest. Rioting and fires following Floyd's murder spurred more than $500 million in damage to more than 1,500 businesses in the Twin Cities.
"This time around, there was adequate police and adequate Highway Patrol, adequate Guard and they stopped all the lawlessness," Gazelka said. "There is a place for protests that we all support but there is no place for acts of violence and rioting and we all need to agree to stop that."
The effort to advance the funding comes as lawmakers hammer out a two-year state budget and as the Legislature's People of Color and Indigenous Caucus renewed calls for police accountability and transparency measures in the wake of the police killings of Floyd and Daunte Wright.
Democratic-Farmer-Labor senators on Tuesday attempted to add accountability measures for police as part of the funding bill, noting that officers in Brooklyn Center had violated the First Amendment rights of protesters outside the city's police department and of journalists reporting on the demonstrations.
"The public does want accountability. They don't just want a check for law enforcement," Sen. Melisa Franzen, D-Edina, said. "All we're asking is to put some level of accountability on the table."
That amendment failed. And Minnesota Democrats, led by POCI Caucus members, urged legislative leaders to take up conversations about additional police reform proposals immediately to keep them from getting stuck in end-of-session negotiations.
"We believe that this bill should be negotiated independently ahead of other bills, and not used as a bargaining chip in the final deals of the session as we have witnessed in the past," Senate DFL lawmakers said in a letter to legislative leaders.
After a brief discussion on the House floor, lawmakers there passed the proposal Tuesday afternoon. Rep. Carlos Mariani, D-St. Paul, said after the historic trial, the Legislature needed to move more policing law changes in addition to the funding.
"To be in this place today is a bit troubling," Mariani said. "I believe that Minnesotans accept that we have to have change in policing. I also believe that Minnesotans want policing to continue and be present and to be effective and focused."