The Potluck

Protestors travel to Sen. Gazelka’s insurance office to demand action on police reform

By: - July 10, 2020 12:22 pm

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, last month outlined GOP priorities for a special session that ended with no police reforms enacted.

As lawmakers prepare to return to Saint Paul to tackle unresolved issues including police reform, a group of protestors are traveling by bus Friday to the Baxter insurance office of GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, to demand the Legislature pass a suite of changes to policing during the special session starting next week.

More than a dozen people had signed on to travel by bus to a protest organized by Communities United Against Police Brutality, a Minneapolis activist group. Others said they planned to arrive separately for the protest, slated to run from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., according to Facebook posts. 

“Come with us to protest state Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, who has blocked all police accountability bills,” the event invitation reads.

Senate Republicans last month offered a handful of police reform measures, including adding money for diversity training; expanding background checks beyond just officers to all police employees; a ban on chokeholds and neck restraints in most instances and adding a requirement to intervene and report in cases of excessive force.

But House Democrats say those measures are insufficient and have called for more sweeping proposals, including creating a new office within the Department of Public Safety to issue grants “community-based violence-intervenors” with the aim of reducing interactions with police; strengthening oversight by expanding the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) board and creating a police-community relations council; and reforming the arbitration process for officers who are dismissed.

The Legislature has been under pressure to respond with policy changes after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25.

Gov. Tim Walz, who is renewing his peacetime emergency declaration to deal with the pandemic, is expected to call legislators back for a special session starting Monday. Lawmakers say negotiations over potential legislation on how to reform police departments are still ongoing. 

A message seeking comment from a spokeswoman for Gazelka was not immediately returned Friday.


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Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez

Ricardo Lopez was a senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.