Minnesota lawmakers press to remove the old constitutional rule, approve of slavery as a punishment

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Minnesota legislators are pushing to remove a clause from the state Constitution that allows slavery and involuntary servitude as a punishment for crime, according to a report.

The bill of rights in the 1857 Minnesota Constitution States: “It shall be sentenced, neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the state otherwise than the punishment for a crime of which the party was.”

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell, speaks at a press conference with the legislators at the state Capitol in St. Paul, Minn., on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in support of an amendment to remove a clause stipulating that slavery and involuntary servitude as a punishment for the crimes of the state Constitution. (AP Photo/Steve Karnowski)

The proposed amendment to the penalty exception would meet, so that a complete prohibition in force.

“It is inappropriate to refer to the language that slavery still exists in our Constitution, even if it’s built tight, and some would say, outdated,” St. Paul democratic Rep. John Lesch said at a press conference on Thursday. “We have made undoubtedly progress in the expansion of civil rights, racial bias remains stubbornly in our state, and we see the effects of that in the news every day.”

Lesch, receive a hearing on Tuesday on his proposal to remove the questions of the voters in November, the offensive, archaic language from the state Constitution.


St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell, disturbed those who had been through the language for some time, it has said his intent for the New year to get it deleted, he.

Axtell said it is important that the Constitution reflects Minnesota values in common.

“This is not a St. Paul thing. This is not a Minneapolis thing. This is not a metro thing. This is a state thing,” the police chief said. “It is important that this wording is removed.”

If the language is troubling for Axtell and Lesch know it’s personal for the democratic Republic of Rena Moran, the great-great-granddaughter of slaves, which said it is unacceptable, to sanction slavery, or slavery under any context.

“Black Americans still carry, multi-generational trauma that the dark times in our nation’s early history,” Moran.

She added: “Make no mistake, this change will not solve every problem, African-Americans still face. However, it is a way of helping to heal centuries-old wounds.”


The proposal seems likely to win support for the Democratically-controlled state House. It is promoted in the Republic to take control of the Senate by Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, an African-American from Minneapolis, the hope that he can persuade Senate leaders. No organized opposition has emerged.

GOP Senate majority leader Paul Gazelka said at a separate press conference on Thursday that he was “throwing certainly ready to have a look at it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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