Senate Republicans called a joint committee hearing Thursday to review a recent report on the state’s response to the George Floyd riots, but their Democratic colleagues decided to skip the meeting.
Throughout July, many of the key players involved in handling the response to the riots testified before a joint meeting of the Senate Transportation Committee and the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.
Their testimony, combined with internal documents from Gov. Tim Walz’s administration and the city of Minneapolis, served as the basis of a 55-page report released last week.
Among many other things, the report describes Walz’s hesitation in activating the Minnesota National Guard and reveals that 80% of the agitators were released on the scene and not arrested.
Democrats on the joint committee, however, said they “fully reject the partisan report” and called the committee process a “farce.”
“The partisan report before the committee today does nothing to further reconciliation and fails to address the root causes of civil unrest. Instead of conducting hearings with broad public and committee member input, the entire hearing and committee process was remarkably limited and far from objective,” Sens. Scott Dibble and Ron Latz, ranking members of the committees, said in a statement issued Thursday.
All 10 Democratic members of the committees skipped Thursday’s hearing, including Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent.
Dibble and Latz said both state and local officials have sent out requests for “expert evaluation” on the riots.
“To underscore the illegitimacy of this political grandstanding and the resulting report, we are not participating in today’s Senate Republican press conference they refer to as a ‘joint committee hearing,’” they said.
Sen. Scott Newman, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said his Democratic peers did not provide “any written response to the report,” despite being given more than a week to do so. The Democratic members of the joint committee were upset that they only received an hour to review the report before it was released, Newman said.
He defended the integrity of the report, noting that it included testimony from law enforcement, the National Guard, local leaders and community members. He also said it includes more than 300 citations, supporting documents and links.
“It really is demonstrative of the political climate we’re in today,” he added. “In the U.S. Senate, Democrats didn’t show up to vote today. In the Minnesota Senate, we have hearings and provided the report for accountability, and Democrats decided they didn’t want to participate today. This is not how we solve problems and bring people together. Everyone needs to be at the table to engage.”