Minnesota House Votes Against Additional Security Funding for Derek Chauvin Trial

Illustration for article titled Minnesota House Votes Against Additional Security Funding for Derek Chauvin Trial
Photo: Stephen Maturen (Getty Images)

The Minnesota House of Representatives rejected a bill intended to provide funds for increased police security during the upcoming trial for one of the officers accused of killing George Floyd.


According to the Star Tribune, the bill was rejected by a 71-63 vote on Thursday in the Democrat-controlled House. The bill came after Minnesota Governor Tim Walz proposed the State Aid For Emergencies (SAFE) account, a $35 million fund that would be used to reimburse any law enforcement agency that assists with security during the trials. Walz proposed the fund so cities can request mutual aid without being stuck with a bill they don’t have the funds to cover.

Last summer, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was seen on video kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. Those eight minutes resulted in Floyd’s dying, a nationwide reckoning on race and police brutality being unleashed, and Chauvin losing his job, getting arrested, and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

The Minnesota Post notes that the issue of policing and funding has been a thorny one in Minnesota, with the SAFE bill more or less becoming a proxy debate about tax revenues and police funding in the state. In addition to trying to find a compromise within their party, Minnesota Democrats are also trying to come to an agreement with the Republican-controlled state Senate, who have introduced a separate bill that would withdraw funds from state aid typically sent to cities in order to cover costs stemming from mutual aid.

It should be noted that local law enforcement is supportive of the bill. “We are specifically urging members of the Minnesota House of Representatives to pass the latest version of the SAFE Account bill,” three associations representing law enforcement said in a letter to House leadership. “The Governor’s SAFE Account proposal is an opportunity to work together, and policing in the coming months will be harder without its passage.”

Jury selection for Chauvin’s trial will begin on March 8, leaving Minnesota lawmakers only weeks to come to an agreement over security funding.

“All Minnesotans deserve to be safe in their communities while having the ability to exercise their first amendment rights,” State Rep. Carlos Mariani (D) told the Star Tribune. “The trial of former officer Derek Chauvin is just days away, and we will continue working on a solution to deliver the necessary resources in preparation for this major event.”

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Makes Me Wonder Why I Even Bring The Thunder

At the same time, [State Senate] Republicans made clear their measure was squarely focused on Minneapolis and borne of frustration with a pledge by a majority of city council members to ‘dismantle’ the Minneapolis Police Department and the council’s subsequent decision to cut $8 million from the department’s budget amid citywide cost-cutting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the GOP plan was about more than dealing with who should pay for trial security, Republican Sen. Torrey Westrom of Elbow Lake said on the Senate floor: It was in part an effort to force change to liberal city policies regarding policing. He urged lawmakers to tell Minneapolis residents that their city is dangerous because of police shortages caused by cuts and a “toxic environment.”

“They have an opportunity to speak to their local leaders to change the trajectory they’re on, of not defunding the police and then expecting all the neighbors to come in and back them up,” he said. “So that’s what we tell the constituents of Minneapolis: Go to your local leaders and ask them for public safety.”

I don’t know how you can link to that MinnPost article and not at least mention that the MN GOP is out to punish jurisdictions defunding the police.