Protestors set fire to the Minneapolis Police Department Third Precinct on May 28. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.
The following is a response from Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chair Ken Martin to an op-ed by Minneapolis DFL Party Chair Devin Hogan, who wrote, in part:
I was appalled to read a recent op-ed by Devin Hogan, the Chair of the Minneapolis DFL, in which he calls the burning of the Third Precinct in Minneapolis a “genuine revolutionary moment” and an “act of pure righteousness.”
I condemn Hogan’s dangerous, violent and inflammatory rhetoric. Let me be clear: these comments reflect the views of one person, Devin Hogan. They do not reflect the views of the Minnesota DFL Party or the Minneapolis DFL Party, and they certainly do not reflect the views of any elected officials in our party with whom I have spoken.
The Minnesota DFL Party fully supports reforming our policing and criminal justice systems to increase transparency, improve accountability, reduce the use of violence and root out systemic racism. Nobody should fear for their life during routine encounters with law enforcement agents. We can and must do better, which is why DFLers are relentlessly pursuing reform.
After the murder of George Floyd, DFL legislators banned the use of chokeholds and neck restraints and the use of “warrior training,” which emphasizes the use of lethal force, while also increasing de-escalation training. Many people, myself included, did not think this was enough. However, with Republicans in control of the state Senate, it was the most we could get passed at the time.
Yet despite Republican opposition, DFL legislators did not give up the fight for a public safety system that works for all Minnesotans. In the latest state budget, DFLers managed to enact further reforms, including limiting the use of no-knock warrants, outfitting state patrol troopers with body cameras, increasing funding for community violence prevention initiatives, reforming civil asset forfeiture rules and improving a misconduct database to create an early warning system that will help keep bad officers off the streets.
Our work to improve our public safety is not even close to finished. However, the ongoing need for change does not justify the use of violence or arson. The burning of the Third Precinct did not bring Minnesota any closer to enacting the reform measures Minnesotans want to see and it was not “revolutionary” or “righteous,” as Hogan claims. That act of arson and the related violence jeopardized the safety of both police officers and the public, further damaged an already fractured relationship between police and the people they serve and made it more difficult to actually deliver real, tangible change.
Hogan’s logic — that violence can be “righteous” if the change we seek is not forthcoming — is reminiscent of the justifications offered by the deranged individuals who seek to murder abortion providers because they disapprove of Roe v. Wade. One of the core tenets of American life is that, in a democracy like ours, we trade violence for ballots. We fight our fights in the court of public opinion and resolve those fights in the voting booth. Cheering on the burning of a police precinct erodes these values and deserves our condemnation.
My fellow DFL leaders and I know that change is still urgently needed. We also know that the majority of law enforcement agents are good people looking to do right by the communities they are charged to protect and serve. We respect those honest law enforcement agents and the work they do, which is why we believe they should be held to a high standard of conduct.
Hogan’s disturbing remarks do not speak for our party. If you want to know where DFLers stand, look to the criminal justice reforms our party enacted last year and look to the fact we successfully continued the fight for reform this year. DFLers are not anti-law enforcement; we are pro-public safety. Our party is committed to building a policing, criminal justice and public safety system that does right by each and every Minnesotan. Burning down a police precinct is not only illegal, dangerous and wrong, but in fact hurts our ability to deliver on the long-term systemic change Minnesotans are demanding.
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