The following is a response from Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin to an op-ed published in Southside Pride by Minneapolis DFL Party Chairman Devin Hogan, who wrote, in part:
Whether we like it or not, setting fire to the third enclosure was a truly revolutionary moment. An act of pure justice to open new worlds of understanding. The people declared themselves ungovernable and unilaterally regained their power. The largest international human rights movement in modern history had started. The youth of Minneapolis carried it all. ”
I was appalled to read a recent op-ed by Devin Hogan, president of the Minneapolis DFL, in which he called the fire in Minneapolis Third Ward a “true revolutionary moment” and “an act of pure righteousness.”
I condemn Hogan’s dangerous, violent and inflammatory rhetoric. Let’s be clear: these comments reflect the point of view of one man, Devin Hogan. They do not reflect the views of the Minnesota DFL Party or the Minneapolis DFL Party, and they certainly do not reflect the views of our party elected officials with whom I have spoken.
The Minnesota DFL Party fully supports reforming our police and criminal justice systems to increase transparency, improve accountability, reduce the use of violence, and eliminate systemic racism. No one should fear for their life during routine encounters with law enforcement. We can and must do better, which is why the DFLers are relentlessly pursuing reform.
After the murder of George Floyd, DFL lawmakers banned the use of chokes and neck restraints and the use of “warrior training,” which emphasizes the use of lethal force. , while increasing de-escalation training. A lot of people, myself included, didn’t think that was enough. However, with the Republicans controlling the State Senate, that was the maximum we could get at the time.
Yet despite Republican opposition, DFL lawmakers have not given up on the fight for a public safety system that works for all Minnesotans. In the latest state budget, the DFLers were successful in enacting other reforms, including limiting the use of no-strike warrants, equipping state patrol officers with body cameras, increasing funding community violence prevention initiatives, reforming the rules for confiscation of civilian property and improving a database on wrongdoing create an early warning system that will help keep bad officers off the streets.
Our work to improve our public safety is not even close to being finished. However, the constant need for change does not justify the use of violence or arson. The Third District fire did not bring Minnesota any closer to passing the reform measures Minnesota people want to see and it was not “revolutionary” or “fair,” as Hogan claims. This act of arson and related violence put police and public safety at risk, further damaged an already broken relationship between police and the people they serve, and made it more difficult to achieve real change and tangible.
Hogan’s logic – that violence can be “just” if the change we seek does not happen – recalls the justifications offered by deranged individuals who seek to murder abortion providers because they disapprove of Roe v. Wade. One of the fundamentals of American life is that in a democracy like ours, we trade violence for ballots. We conduct our fights in the court of public opinion and resolve these fights in the voting booth. Encouraging the burning of a police station erodes these values and deserves our condemnation.
My fellow DFL leaders and I know that change is still urgently needed. We also know that the majority of law enforcement officers are good people who seek to do good to the communities they are charged with protecting and serving. We respect these honest law enforcement officers and the work they do, which is why we believe they should be held to a high standard of conduct.
Hogan’s disturbing remarks do not speak for our party. If you want to know where the DFLers are at, look at the criminal justice reforms our party passed last year and look at the fact that we have successfully continued the struggle for reform this year. DFLers are not opposed to law enforcement; we are in favor of public safety. Our party is committed to building a police, criminal justice and public safety system that works for everyone in Minnesota. Burning down a police station is not only illegal, dangerous and reprehensible, it actually hurts our ability to implement the long-term systemic change the Minnesotans demand.