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Minnesota Governor Walz flees protesters demanding action against killer cops

By Jess Sundin |
February 22, 2020
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Minneapolis, MN - When Minnesota Governor Tim Walz appeared at the University of Minnesota to reflect on his first year of governing, he was confronted by angry community members demanding that he call for the prosecutions of killer cops across the state. Family members of police murder victims were joined by Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar, UMN Students for a Democratic Society, SMASH students from Minneapolis South High School, and others.

Shortly after Walz and the event moderator were settled into two cozy armchairs on a stage at the front of a packed auditorium, one person rose from the middle of the crowd to demand that the governor address the epidemic of police murders that have taken place on his watch. “Are you willing to call for the prosecution of police officers that murder of our loved ones?”

In the seven minutes before he ran away, he was asked repeatedly to call for prosecutions. The governor has the authority to take up police murder cases and assign them to the state attorney general, or someone else, after county prosecutors decline to prosecute. Protesters also demanded that Walz take action to stop bogus investigations by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) when police officers murder, and for him to support community control of the police.

Walz had several responses that fell flat. His statement, “I do not have the power to grant pardons,” was answered with, “We don’t need pardons, we need prosecutions!” He praised public conversations like the University event, and was hit with, “We don’t need conversations, we need convictions!” Desperate to end the public questioning, he offered to meet with activists after the event. “No, we don’t believe you!” There have been several attempts to schedule a meeting with the governor around police killings, but for months, his office has failed to respond.

Toshira Garraway Allen, whose son’s father Justin Tiegen was brutally murdered ten years ago by Saint Paul police said, “You have ignored us Governor Walz! They’re killing our loved ones in cold blood and walking free. And Governor Walz is ignoring our families.”

After Walz ran away, protesters chanted “Black lives matter!” as police pushed them out of the auditorium. Outside the hall, and as they were walking away, police grabbed one young Black protester. They handcuffed and held her in a police vehicle outside, admitting they did so to get other protesters out of the building. She was released without charge about ten minutes later. Undaunted, she demanded identifying information from every one of the officers who targeted her.

Walz came back to continue the event once activists were gone, but he was confronted by a second wave of protesters. This group was speaking out against Enbridge Line 3, a tar sands oil pipeline that threatens the environment and violates treaty rights. Those protesters were also removed from the hall. No one left the event thinking Walz’s first year as governor was going well. Least of all, Governor Walz.