A group of roughly 50 protestors amassed outside Minnesota State Senate Republican Majority Leader Paul Gazelka’s place of business in Baxter, Minnesota.
Some of the protesters who arrived at Gazelka’s insurance office on Friday got there via bus, organized by Communities United Against Police Brutality. Other individuals arrived in their own vehicles, per the Minnesota Reformer. Gazelka told Alpha News that he was not at his office during the protest, but that associates of his reported that about 50 protesting individuals were met by an equally large crowd of those who support the senator.
Alpha News spoke with Gazelka on the phone as he was driving home to his district after working in St. Paul to reach compromise on new police reform legislation while the protest occurred. “I’m glad it’s over,” he said about the demonstration. “Now I can finish trying to get the police accountability bill done.”
He added that protests at the business or homes, in the case of Democrat State House Speaker Melissa Hortman, only serve to distract legislators, slowing progress towards any objective. Gazelka also said he’s heard reports that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) played a role in organizing both the protest outside his business and the protest outside Hortman’s home.
“We’re trying to work with community members and the police to say ‘what are the things we could do that make sense,'” Gazelka said, about his recent work on police accountability. Some of those measures he mentioned include a prohibition on chokeholds and incentives for the Minneapolis Police Department to hire officers who live in the city.
However, he also stated his fervent opposition of measure that will outright defund police departments— his stance that seemed to prompt the recent protest outside his business. “This group is definitely the extreme part of the movement,” he said, speaking on those who seek to abolish the police.
Speaking about his own constituents, Gazelka said that “they are very supportive of their police officers,” and that “they have a very good working relationship with the police [and that the] police are very active in their communities.”
He also noted that he was “concerned” for the safety of his family and business associates amidst the protest, but that “good communication” and a “coordinated” response by law enforcement helped to maintain the peace.