Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to Lead George Floyd Case02 Jun 2020
The governor of the US state of Minnesota, Tim Walz, has announced that he has tasked Attorney General on Minnesota, Keith Ellison, to lead all prosecutions relating to the death of George Floyd. The death of Floyd during police custody a week ago has triggered widespread protests and rioting across the US, especially after footage emerged of the police using disproportionate force during Floyd’s arrest.
Speaking on Monday, Ellison said that he is committed to justice and a fair trial despite the many difficulties he expects he will face. Some have speculated that the investigation could be the defining moment of Ellison who has already made history as a life-long racial equality activist, the first African-American representative from Minnesota and the first Muslim to be elected to the US Congress.
“We plan to hold everyone accountable who is legally culpable”
Keith Ellison, the Attorney General of Minnesota, was chosen by Minnesota Governor, Tim Walz, as the protests in the state and across the country entered their first week. Ellison’s appointment appears to have come after the protest movement expressed dissatisfaction that Floyd’s killer, Derek Chauvin, was charged only with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter while the three officers that accompanied with were not charged with any wrongdoings. His family were dissatisfied with the initial charges on all four officers.
Upon taking over the case, Ellison vowed to use all resources necessary to achieve justice in the case.
Ellison told reporters in a news conference that it is his duty as an official to make the justice process work for the people, and added that this is the only way to restore the public’s trust. Speaking about the case, Ellison told CBS News, he admitted that it will be a difficult case, as prosecuting police officers for misconduct, including homicide and murder, is very difficult. He said that that his team is working as fast as possible and added that he has a duty to be fair.
“Our criminal justice system is used as a system of social control so often,” Ellison said, highlighting the uneven prosecution of White Americans and African-Americans as an example. He further added that the underfunding of public defence systems has left everyone, including poor whites, have been left in a disadvantaged position.
Is this a defining moment for Ellison?
Ellison has long been active in US politics, especially on matters of race and religion. As the first African-American representative from Minnesota and the first Muslim to be elected to the US Congress, Ellison has long championed causes around equality.
Some analysts now speculate that his handling of the Floyd case, whose fallout has resulted in massive protests and riots across the US, could be his make-or-break moment. In addition to his background which is expected to increase his credibility among the protest movement, Ellison has been an ardent supporter of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and a vocal opponent of US President Donald Trump.
On numerous occasions, Ellison has criticised Trump for his mishandling of the protests feeling that his attitude is representative of the wider problem. Prior to the killing of Floyd, Ellison was vocal about Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and has worked hard to protect his home-state of Minnesota from the virus. To this day, the state remains one of the least-affected areas in the country.
Should Ellison resolve the case fairly and quell national tensions at a time of heightened polarisation, the Minnesota politician could become a household name across the US.