Message From Our Board of Directors

Statement from Protect Minnesota – August 27, 2020

Another police shooting of a Black man, this time in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back on August 23rd. Jacob Blake was not under arrest. His family reports he’s paralyzed.

Protesters demonstrated in Kenosha, Minneapolis and many other cities, demanding justice. Within days, the tragedy of Blake’s shooting was compounded. Three protesters in Kenosha were shot by a 17-year-old white male; one fatally shot in the head, one fatally shot in the torso, one wounded, shot in the arm. The teenager has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide.

Protect Minnesota stands with the victims and survivors of these horrific shootings.

We will not hide behind the idea that ‘we don’t have all the details’ before we speak out against the continued violence against Black people by police. We call for justice for Jacob Blake’s children traumatized by witnessing the shooting of their father, a trauma that will affect their entire lives. We call for justice for the protesters wounded and killed in Kenosha, for their families, and for their fellow protestors who will not forget seeing their compatriots shot beside them.

For many years, our community and country have witnessed painful scenes of police violence against Black and Brown bodies. We cannot ignore the underlying issues of racism in law enforcement and throughout our country.

Anger over racial bias, including in policing, won’t go away until we as a society address the root issues, including economic disparities. We saw that yesterday in Minneapolis, where protesters, looters and police again squared off in downtown streets, after false rumors of another police shooting.

Earlier yesterday, peaceful protesters marched for justice for Lionel Lewis, on the 18th anniversary of his death in police custody in Hibbing. Aniliese Meyer, who was 1 when her father died in the backseat of a squad car, is quoted as saying George Floyd’s killing reopened her trauma.

While protesters marched for Lionel Lewis, Minneapolis police were investigating a fatal shooting of a man in a parking ramp. When they tracked the alleged shooter, he shot and killed himself. Police released surveillance video showing the man’s gun suicide. Mistaken reports of a police-involved shooting of a Black man began spreading across social media. By nightfall, looters had damaged dozens of businesses, the mayor imposed a curfew and requested the National Guard to maintain order.

We’ve seen rising numbers of homicides nationwide, as well as in the Twin Cities. This August, Minneapolis has already exceeded last year’s homicide total. The city has had nearly 100 ShotSpotter Activation reports over the past seven days. New research posits that the spike in violence may be linked to the surge in gun sales that began this spring due to coronavirus lockdowns.

We do not know for sure why violence is surging now. We do know:

  • Gun violence continues to be a public health epidemic: one that too seldom leads to meaningful change that will protect all Minnesotans, including Black and Brown people who are disproportionately impacted by gun violence.
  • Racism is also a public health epidemic. We at Protect Minnesota are learning what’s needed to respond comprehensively and effectively to this crisis with measures grounded both in public health and in racial justice. We seek to follow the leadership of Black and Brown communities and Minneapolitans about what else we can and should do in response to this crisis of gun violence.
  • Common-sense gun laws can help reduce gun violence. We support expanded background checks and extended risk protection orders, (also known as red flag laws). These measures are needed, but we know they don’t reduce gun violence equitably across all of our communities. We can take additional measures to reduce gun violence throughout all of Minnesota.
  • Our families and communities are not safer with guns in the home. That’s why Protect Minnesota has accelerated our distribution of trigger locks to equip people with safer gun ownership education and trigger locks that can help prevent unintended shootings in the home, reduce child access to firearms, and deter firearm theft. This expanded effort is centered in North Minneapolis, which is disproportionately impacted by gun violence, including shots fired, non-fatal shootings, and homicide.
  • Suicide continues to be the leading cause of gun deaths in Minnesota. Last year, 355 Minnesotans used a gun to kill themselves.
  • Protect Minnesota stands with Jacob Blake and the protesters who demand justice for him.

 


Statement from Protect Minnesota – Responding to Increased Gun Violence in Minneapolis
June 25, 2020

Minneapolis has experienced more than 100 shootings in the past month, including the mass shooting in Uptown on Sunday that injured 11 people and bullets flying through a North Minneapolis park where kids were practicing football. Gun violence continues to be a public health epidemic: one that too seldom leads to meaningful change that will protect all Minnesotans, including Black and Brown people who are disproportionately impacted by gun violence in our state.

Protect Minnesota has long advocated for legislative action to reduce gun violence. We support expanded background checks and extended risk protection orders, (also known as red flag laws). This year, with your help, these gun violence prevention bills passed the House. We need a more courageous Senate that will advance these bills in 2021 and commit to reducing gun violence in our state. We’re working on that, and you can learn more about candidates who support gun violence prevention here: Orange Star Candidates.

We understand that while these measures are necessary, they are not enough, and do not reduce gun violence equitably across all of our communities. There are additional measures we can take to reduce gun violence throughout all of Minnesota.

Despite clear research that our families and communities are not safer with guns in the home, we know that more guns began flooding into homes as a result COVID-19 and the civil unrest and uprisings in response to the murder of George Floyd.

Protect Minnesota has distributed free trigger locks for many years; we have accelerated our work to equip people with safer gun ownership education, trigger locks, and biometric storage safes that can help prevent unintended shootings in the home, reduce child access to firearms, and deter firearm theft. This expanded effort is centered in North Minneapolis, which is disproportionately impacted by gun violence, including shots fired, non-fatal shootings, and homicide.

Racism is also a public health epidemic. In a gun violence prevention movement that is overwhelmingly white, this moment calls for humility and thoughtful conversation, and we at Protect Minnesota are actively learning what’s needed to respond comprehensively and effectively to this crisis with gun violence prevention measures that are grounded both in public health and in racial justice. We seek to follow the leadership of Black and Brown communities and Minneapolitans about what else we can and should do in response to this crisis of gun violence.

This could include:

We cannot speak about community gun violence without recognizing the impact of police violence and racial bias in policing. This crisis demands bold action, openness to new solutions, and a willingness to work together. Gun violence prevention must center the safety of everyone, and respond explicitly and equitably to the needs and expertise of Black people and people of color as we chart a new path forward. We need a new frame – reducing violence, including violence by gun — is our work. We won’t succeed with one-off approaches that don’t address systemic injustice and the root causes of how we got here. We will continue to push for actions we must take to reduce all gun violence and keep all of us safe.

We know that many others in our community are listening, learning, and responding to the urgency of this moment. Protect Minnesota invites you to join us in the work ahead. We hope you will stay engaged as we fight for responsive, effective, and equitable solutions to prevent gun violence in all of our communities.

We want to hear your ideas and solutions: get in touch with us today!

Protect Minnesota Board
Protect Minnesota Advocacy Fund Board
Protect Minnesota Staff

 


Protect Minnesota statement on police accountability and public safety


The murder of George Floyd continues to mobilize our community.

The legislature is considering plans to protect Minnesotans from police violence. We support the set of public safety proposals from the Minnesota People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus.

Please ask your legislators to support the POCI package of criminal justice reform bills to hold police accountable. Find your legislators here.

As an organization rooted in public health, Protect Minnesota believes that the issue of gun violence cannot be decoupled from the systems in which this violence occurs, including the manner in which justice is administered.

George Floyd’s murder has brought the urgent need for policing and criminal justice reform to the forefront of Protect Minnesota’s attention, as it has similarly changed the priorities of our local and state governing bodies. As a gun violence prevention organization, we know preventing police violence is an integral part of our work. We seek to transform systems built on oppression and violence. We commit to follow the leadership of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led efforts to promote public safety and strengthen our communities and connections to one another.

We ask Protect Minnesota members to join us in listening, reading, learning, and taking intentional actions that dismantle systemic racism. Here are a few of the many resources available:

MPD 150
Minnesota’s Decades-Long Failure to Confront Police Abuse
I was a police chief stopped by my own officer, after Floyd we need changes at all levels
Anti-racism resources
America, This is Your Chance

Ours is a statewide organization and we want to hear from — and connect with — more Minnesotans. We accept that change will take uncomfortable conversations and hard work. We are ready for both.

We hope you will join us in doing the work of making Minnesota safer for all.

Protect Minnesota Board of Directors
Protect Minnesota Advocacy Fund Board of Directors

To learn more about Protect Minnesota, visit protectmn.org

Protect Minnesota is a 501.c3 non-profit organization.
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