Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R- East Gull Lake, on Friday called on Gov. Tim Walz to apologize to suburban moms, saying they were fearful of the mass demonstrations, arson and looting that racked the Twin Cities in the past 10 days.
The May 25 death of George Floyd touched off days of rioting and other destruction in Minneapolis and St. Paul, leading to a massive National Guard deployment to quell the unrest and secure the demonstrations, while businesses and neighborhoods banded together to protect their livelihoods.
Gazelka has criticized how Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s handled the Minneapolis demonstrations.
“Can somebody apologize to the people of Minnesota for not protecting the people of Minnesota?” Gazelka said. “ Where’s the apology to the moms out in the suburbs scared to death about what’s happening all around them and seeing the glowing fire in Minneapolis-St. Paul?
Walz on Friday did not issue an apology, saying it is too premature to criticize the response by the Minnesota State Patrol and National Guard. “These are complex situations that are evolving. I listened to the advice of my expert and commanders on the ground,” he said.
State Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, DFL-Roseville, on Twitter criticized Gazelka’s remarks.
“I am a suburban mom,” she wrote. “I don’t need an apology. I need the GOP Senate to support meaningful legislation to address systemic racism and police brutality. I need the GOP Senate to be more than just sad and sorry that #GeorgeFloyd was killed by police.”
Becker-Finn hashtagged her tweet #IAmASuburbanMom, which spawned hundreds of trending tweets Friday.
Suburban women are considered a coveted constituency in the upcoming election. Polls show they abandoned Republicans in 2018, giving the Democrats a sweeping victory in Minnesota and across the nation.
Gazelka also said it’s unlikely that the Legislature — expected to return to a special session next week — will approve wide-ranging changes to laws regulating police behavior. The Senate will deliberate, he said, on potential changes to the overall criminal justice system, but dampened expectations.
“To actually expect that to be done in the next week is not how the legislative bodies work,” Gazelka said. “We meet in committees and we fully vet issues to make sure we get it right.”