A Midwestern Morass

Now that they hold the levers of state power by a slim majority, Minnesota Democrats are cramming far-left legislation down the throats of the state’s beleaguered conservatives, pushing the envelope on a range of progressive causes from transgender activism, restrictions on free speech, and expansions of the franchise to felons and illegal immigrants.

Minnesota has not voted Republican in a presidential election since 1972 and has a reputation as a blue stronghold. Despite that, its population is roughly evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Its rural red counties were a hair’s breadth from delivering the state to Donald Trump in 2016, when the state voted to the right of the national average for the first time since 1952. During the 2022 midterms, however, the state’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) achieved control over the state’s legislative and executive branches by a slim majority.

The result is an example of what an assertive American left will force upon its minority conservative population when it has the legal power to do so. This year, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and DFL lawmakers have introduced a legislative agenda that will embed the right to abortion within state law; make the state a “trans refuge” that will protect so-called gender-affirming care (including sex reassignment surgery for children); strengthen gun control measures including “red flag” laws to strip Second Amendment rights from anyone deemed dangerous by the state; mandate the issuance of driver’s licenses to illegal aliens and grant voting rights to felons, which is likely to further consolidate the DFL’s electoral control in future elections.

Among the worst of the power grabs is a bill approved by the state house and senate in April that would establish a “bias registry” to track citizens for alleged acts of racial discrimination that fall short of prosecutable crimes.

“If a Minnesotan writes an article claiming that COVID-19 is a Chinese bioweapon that leaked from a lab in Wuhan and someone reports that to the [Minnesota] Department of Human Rights, is that something that the Department of Human Rights should put in their bias registry under your bill?” Republican Rep. Harry Niska asked one of the bill’s authors, DFL Rep. Samantha Vang.

“This, clearly, with the rhetoric that we have seen since the pandemic regarding accusing Asians of bringing in the coronavirus, is bias-motivated, and so it can be considered a bias incident,” Vang responded.

Minnesota has been in the vanguard of the left’s offense in America’s culture wars, especially after the May 25, 2020 death while in police custody of the ex-convict and drug addict George Floyd, which triggered an outburst of rioting in the city culminating in the burning of its 3rd Precinct police station, and inspired more rioting, burning, and looting nationwide.

Rep. Samantha Vang (DFL)
(Minnesota House of Representatives portrait)

Vang is a second-generation Hmong immigrant who represents the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center, which saw another bout of post-Floyd rioting in April 2021 after an unarmed black man, Daunte Wright, was shot while resisting arrest.
Vang’s Brooklyn Center is a microcosm of what has happened to urban Minnesota as it has absorbed wave after wave of refugees, which have included Hmong from Southeast Asia and Somalians from East Africa. In 1990, 90 percent of Brooklyn Center’s population identified as non-Hispanic white. As of last year, that percentage had fallen to 39 percent; the suburb’s two largest minority groups are Hmong and blacks, the latter composed of a large community of refugees from the war-torn West African country of Liberia.

Violent crime skyrocketed in Minneapolis after 2020 and it remains high. Once known for vibrant nightlife, downtown Minneapolis is now avoided by most residents, especially at night.

In May, Rebecca Brannon, a crime reporter for the conservative Minnesota news site Alpha News, observed on Twitter:

Minneapolis … is like a ghost town compared to even Boise, Idaho, at night—I can’t even quite explain it. Minneapolis and Minnesota is ground zero for the rise in crime nationally—when leadership failed to respond to the George Floyd riots 3 years ago it set the tone for emboldening criminals. The defund-the-police rhetoric did more damage than anything and now police are more passive than ever and told constantly to not engage or stand down for fears of ‘escalating’ or getting slapped w/ some lawsuit. Criminals have rights above everything else and if you say otherwise you are a bigot—especially if you point out the crime and simply talk about it. Prosecutors in Minneapolis are ridiculously lenient on repeat offenders and the Judges release them back in the streets.

Last year, the son of the former police chief of Golden Valley, another Minneapolis suburb, was robbed downtown and beaten so severely that he was hospitalized for a traumatic brain injury. Two black men, Kevron Detrell Williams Gray and Jamarcus Robert Tucker, were charged with the alleged assault, which police say took place during the course of their running a cellphone theft ring that victimized more than 100 people.

“Minneapolis is down hundreds of officers and the few that remain do not feel supported to do their jobs in a politically volatile situation,” Scott Nadeau, the former chief, wrote on Facebook. “If people tell you Downtown MPLS is safe they are lying or incredibly uninformed. If you blame my son for being downtown on a Friday night I invite you to think about how this was not a question 5 years ago.”

What is a question is whether, five years hence, Nadeau will even be allowed to speak freely about the crime problem in Minneapolis, or whether doing so will get him referred to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

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