Minneapolis NAACP, Black Lives Matter call on Klobuchar to suspend campaign
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is being called to suspend her presidential campaign after an Associated Press story published Tuesday offered a critical account of her handling of a case while she was Hennepin County’s district attorney.
As the county DA, Klobuchar led the case against Myon Burrell, who was a teenager at the time and was sentenced to life in prison for the 2002 murder of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards. The AP story revealed that Klobuchar prosecuted Burrell, now 33, despite there being little evidence and even though his co-defendant confessed to the crime and said Burrell wasn’t there.
Though Klobuchar was not the county’s top prosecutor the second time Burrell was convicted after filing an appeal, she reportedly denied his request to attend his mother’s funeral, claiming he was a threat to society.
In past debates, Klobuchar has touted her tough-on-crime stance as a Minneapolis prosecutor, and during her first Senate campaign she recounted Burrell’s conviction among others as her finding justice for black families who lost their children to gun violence.
On Wednesday, the Racial Justice Network, Minneapolis NAACP, Black Lives Matter Twin Cities, Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar and Communities United Against Police Brutality all asked Klobuchar to suspend her White House bid. Edwards’s father has also said he believes Burrell may have been wrongfully convicted.
“What I need people to understand is this isn’t about partisanship and this isn’t about politics,” Leslie Redmond, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, said in a press conference. “This is about justice. … This isn’t just a situation that happened to the Central Park Five alone. This is a situation that happens all around America. This is a situation that happens right here in Minnesota.”
“Young people, young adults were given life sentences to rot away in prison,” Redmond continued. “This benefits no one. However, it does benefit politicians who use the criminal justice system to benefit their political careers. Enough is enough.”
Klobuchar’s campaign defended her record as Hennepin County DA and said the Minnesota Democrat has advocated for criminal justice reform.
“Senator Klobuchar has advocated for reforms to our criminal justice system over the years, including during her time as Hennepin County Attorney,” her campaign said in a statement to The Hill. “If there is new evidence in this case, it should be immediately reviewed by the court.”
The AP’s report comes the week before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3. Klobuchar has not polled particularly well with black voters and trails behind major candidates such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Updated at 9:12 p.m.