St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said he is “troubled by a clause” in the Minnesota Constitution that includes the world “slavery” and hopes to “ignite a movement” to get it removed.
The clause in question, found in Article I, Section 2, states that “there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the state otherwise than as punishment for a crime of which the party has been convicted.”
“This means that even today, 162 years since the State of Minnesota banned slavery and servitude, there is still an exception in our Constitution that allows it. Slavery is not a Minnesota value,” Axtell said in a New Year’s Eve Facebook post.
He said he plans to make it his “2020 resolution” to promote an amendment that would have the word removed.
“Words matter. That’s why I’m making it my 2020 resolution to raise awareness of this clause to ignite a movement among people who care about doing what’s right—a movement to champion an amendment removing slavery from the Minnesota State Constitution,” said Axtell.
The police chief said the constitution is “supposed to reflect our values,” which “include equity, freedom, and respect for all people.”
“It’s time we amend our constitution to make that clear,” he continued. “As a Minnesotan, at the start of the 2020s, it is my belief that it is time—beyond time—to move forward together and strike out slavery from our shared constitution.”
Axtell’s police department saw its first homicide of 2020 early Wednesday morning—just two hours into the new year. St. Paul experienced 30 homicides in 2019 and was four shy of 1992’s all-time record of 34 homicides.
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