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Rochester’s Diversity Council reacts to proposed changes to state constitution

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- A clause remaining in Minnesota's Constitution is prompting lawmakers to push for a change.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 declaring all persons held as slaves be set free. However, the Minnesota state constitution, written in 1857, never took out a clause allowing slavery to be used as a form of punishment for a crime.

Minnesota State Constitution as written now:

Sec. 2. Rights and privileges.

"No member of this state shall be disfranchised or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof, unless by the law of the land or the judgment of his peers. 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."

Now nearly 160 years later a change could be coming.

It was St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell who raised the alarm in January, and now his concerns could soon be heard by state lawmakers.

Rochester Diversity Council Executive Director Dee Sabol.

Here in Rochester, Diversity Council Executive Director Dee Sabol said more needs to be done once the expected constitutional change happens.

"Our culture won't change just because we eradicate this language we need to do that, but again we need to acknowledge where did that language come from and have we fully corrected its impact on our criminal justice system," Sabol stated.

Once the change is made to the constitution, Sabol hopes other parts of the document can also get a closer look.

The proposed amendment will be heard in the house as soon as next week.

Minnesota State Constitution.

Ubah Ali

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