Daily Digest: Shooting sparks protests

Good morning, and welcome to Monday, the start of a brand new work week. Here’s the Digest.

1. Police shooting renews debate over use of force in Minneapolis. City and police leaders promised a full and transparent investigation into the fatal shooting of a 31-year-old man in north Minneapolis Saturday, even as community members and activists questioned their account of the death during a daytime protest and nighttime vigil Sunday. The state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting of Thurman J. Blevins, said he was armed and running from Minneapolis police officers who fatally shot him a short time later. The BCA said in a written statement that its agents found a black and silver handgun at the scene of the shooting. James Lark said at the vigil held near the scene of the shooting that he saw the initial confrontation. He said police officers approached Blevins near 48th and Camden avenues north and told him to put his hands up, at which point Blevins turned and ran. Lark said he didn’t see a gun. He said Blevins was drinking out of a cup, and sitting on the curb with a woman with a baby in a stroller. Other protesters said they heard that Blevins had been shot in the back, but those details had not been released as of Sunday. The BCA did not release whether the Minneapolis officers had been fired upon. Nor had the results of an autopsy been released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner. (MPR News)

2. Reactions from candidates for governor vary in tone. DFL-endorsed candidate Erin Murphy said she was “saddened” to hear of the death of Thurman Blevins: “We need to understand what led to [Saturday’s] loss of another man’s life and ensure that questions are quickly answered. We need to lift up black, brown and indigenous lives. They matter and it is incumbent on us to fix the underlying inequities in our state that serve to fuel distrust, division and violence.” DFL candidate Tim Walz said he was “deeply saddened and troubled” by the shooting: “We know that there is pain reverberating through the community, and we know this trauma is all too familiar for black, brown and indigenous communities in our state. A thorough and transparent investigation is critical for everyone involved.” Republican Tim Pawlenty didn’t mention Blevens: “911 calls reported a person firing a handgun in a residential neighborhood in North Minneapolis. A handgun was recovered at the scene. Too often, people with political or other agendas instantly second guess law enforcement officers before credible facts are available. That is irresponsible, harmful to our community and it undermines law enforcement. Police officers put their lives on the line to protect us and they deserve our support.”

3. Carter rejects call for more St. Paul cops.  St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter has publicly rejected his police chief’s call for 50 more officers. At 6 p.m. Friday, Carter posted a statement to Facebook above a link to a Pioneer Press account of Police Chief Todd Axtell’s recent presentation to the St. Paul City Council. The issue of hiring more officers came up Wednesday as Axtell responded to questions from Council President Amy Brendmoen. But Carter said in his Friday statement: “The philosophy that more police officers, tougher prosecutors and bigger jails equal a safer city has failed. Our driving goal shouldn’t be to hire as many officers as possible but to reduce the number of times we have to call police in the first place.” The mayor said the city already spends three times more money on police and fire services than on recreation centers and libraries. He said the city’s “Community First” public safety approach calls for investing in neighborhood services, not increasing uniforms on the street. (Pioneer Press)

4. Health care likely to be a big issue again in Minnesota congressional races. With the Trump administration saying it will not defend a key provision of the Affordable Care Act against court challenges, the spotlight is back on those running for Congress. “Everyone knows where I am — I voted to reform health care and I’m willing to stand up and [say] that was the right thing to do,” Republican U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis said. “The Affordable Care Act is in a free fall, so let’s have a debate on that.”  That legislation “is still dysfunctional and it’s still a mess, which is why so many Democrats are trying to push for Medicare for all,” Lewis said. He pointed to a recent report from Medicare trustees that the system will be depleted by 2026. On Thursday, Lewis and Republicans on the House Budget Committee voted for a new budget proposal that would make large cuts to Medicare and Medicaid as part of broader efforts to reduce spending and address the national debt. “We have to go back to real health care reform that allows people to buy the policy they want, that undoes the price control, so that the health insurance industry can reward people for staying in shape and subsidize risk that way instead of trying to basically socialize medicine,” Lewis said. DFLer Angie Craig, who’s challenging Lewis, said that 51 percent of non-elderly people in the Second Congressional District have pre-existing conditions. “This action by the Trump administration only adds uncertainty and higher costs for Americans,” Craig said. “When the administration does something that will harm voters and people in the district, it is our responsibility as a member of Congress to speak out and speak up, and he’s complicit in his silence.” (Star Tribune)

5. Carnahan says fellow Republicans have made racist and sexist remarks. Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan posted on her personal Facebook page Friday that she’s been subject to racist and sexist attacks from fellow Republicans. In her post, Carnahan, who was born in South Korea and adopted by Minnesota parents, wrote that “Some (sadly) Republican Party leaders/executive committee members around this state have made racist comments about me, and to me — calling me ‘dragon lady, a ch*nk, a stupid Asian not even born in America’ and other awful racial slurs.” Carnahan wrote that the attacks are “starting to get to me.” In an interview with the Star Tribune, Carnahan declined to identify who attacked her, but said the comments were not directed at her own executive board, which includes a member from each of Minnesota’s congressional districts, plus a finance chair, party treasurer and other elected officers. (Star Tribune)

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