MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Questions surrounding why the rioting and looting went on for so long after George Floyd’s death may be answered Wednesday.

Senate Republicans, led by Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, are holding a hearing on what happened and why.

Republicans are hoping to take the concern over lawlessness into the November election. State Democrats are, too, but they are framing the issue as one of social justice.

“We should not let mob rule change anything in our culture,” Gazelka said.

The hearings will be a review of the explosive and dangerous days after Floyd’s death, and they’ll also look into the toppling of the Christopher Columbus statue on June 10 on the Minnesota State Capitol’s mall.

“I cannot believe this is how they think change should happen in Minnesota,” Gazelka said. “There are legal ways and processes if we want to remove something or change something, and it’s not allowing a mob to do it for you.”

And while Republicans may be angry, so are Democrats. On June 19, as the special session collapsed, DFL Senate Deputy Minority Leader Senator Jeff Hayden spoke out.

“This is a consistent theme of them to simply say, ‘Hey, we know better, we know what’s good for you Black and Brown people,’” Hayden said.

The frustration continues over these hearings. Hayden and the Senate DFL Minority Leader Susan Kent wrote a letter to Gazelka, saying, “If your performance during the last special session is any indication or predictor of the success of this working group, it does not bode well for the state.”

DFL legislators and the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus are confident enough in their position that they are taking their case to the suburbs, holding a town hall this week on police reform and race relations at the Maple Grove Bandshell.

All 201 members of the legislature up for election in four short months, so this issue of lawlessness versus police reform and social justice will be one of the defining issues which will likely determine which party loses or gains power in the state legislature.

The oversight hearing on the violence and looting will take place at the Senate Office Building Wednesday morning. The town hall meeting at the Maple Grove Bandshell on police reform will be held Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Esme Murphy

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