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MN Faith Leaders Demand Action on Police-Accountability Bills

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Despite action taken last year, police accountability groups in Minnesota say the state has much more work to do in this area. (Adobe Stock)
Despite action taken last year, police accountability groups in Minnesota say the state has much more work to do in this area. (Adobe Stock)
 By Mike Moen - Producer, Contact
April 29, 2021

ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- The Derek Chauvin verdict and the death of Daunte Wright have renewed calls for Minnesota lawmakers to adopt the latest proposals surrounding police accountability.

Across the state, some faith leaders say they want to see these ideas approved.

Earlier this month, the DFL-led House passed a host of proposals that were part of an omnibus bill.

Included is a limit on police authority to conduct traffic stops for minor violations. There's also funding for community groups working on crime prevention.

James Alberts, pastor of Higher Ground Church of God in St. Cloud, said they've established an agreement with local police to improve communication, helping to ease tensions, but he said that shouldn't stop broader reforms.

"If we are going to entrust law enforcement to be the morality that we hope that they are, there has to be checks and balances when we come across individuals that fail to meet that standard," Alberts urged.

A coalition of faith leaders is calling on the Republican-controlled Senate to hold hearings on the proposals. Some GOP lawmakers have said certain ideas put law enforcement in too much of a bind, while others said last year's reforms, approved after the George Floyd killing, were a key step in establishing accountability.

But activists and many DFL lawmakers said last year's plan, while bipartisan, didn't go far enough and the new ideas could build on that effort.

Peter Carlson Schattauer, associate pastor of Advent Lutheran Church in Maple Grove, said as a faith leader, he feels a responsibility to help guide discussions on trust and accountability.

"And this trust does not exist right now when the inherent worth and dignity that God has granted Black lives is not being honored," Carlson Schattauer asserted.

Specifically, the faith leaders are appealing to Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, who chairs the Senate's Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee.

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