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Minnesota AG explains why Floyd's death not charged as hate crime

Minnesota AG explains why Floyd's death not charged as hate crime
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Minnesota Attorney General Keith EllisonKeith EllisonMinneosta AG's office to prosecute case against officer charged in killing of Daunte Wright State trial for former officers charged in George Floyd's death moved to next year Lawyer for former officer charged in George Floyd death alleges witness coercion MORE made his case for why George Floyd’s death was not charged as a hate crime, arguing that systemic racism, not individual racial motivation, was at work when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes.

In an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday, CBS’s Scott Pelley asked Ellison if he thought Floyd’s death was a hate crime. After a brief pause, Ellison responded it wasn't.

“I wouldn't call it that because hate crimes are crimes where there's an explicit motive, and of bias,” Ellison said. “We don't have any evidence that Derek Chauvin factored in George Floyd's race as he did what he did.”

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Pelley noted that Ellison could have charged Chauvin with a hate crime under Minnesota law, and pushed him on why he decided not to.

Ellison said that while they could have gone down that route, the state of Minnesota decided not to because “we only charge those crimes that we had evidence that we could put in front of a jury to prove.”

“If we'd had a witness that told us that Derek Chauvin made a racial reference, we might have charged him with a hate crime. But I would have needed a witness to say that on the stand,” Ellison continued.

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“We didn't have it. So we didn't do it,” Ellison concluded.

Pelley challenged Ellison’s interpretation of the situation, noting that, “The whole world sees this as a white officer killing a Black man because he is Black."

“And you’re telling me that there’s no evidence to support that?” he asked.

Floyd’s death in May 2020 sparked nationwide protests throughout the summer, marked by demonstrations advocating for police reform and racial justice.

Ellison told Pelley that it was “not necessary” that Chauvin had a specific racial intent for the public to pay “serious attention to this case and be outraged by it.”

“In our society, there is a social norm that killing certain kinds of people is more tolerable than other kinds of people,” Ellison said. “In order for us to stop and pay serious attention to this case and be outraged by it, it's not necessary that Derek Chauvin had a specific racial intent to harm George Floyd.”

Ellison instead suggested that systemic racism is the root of the unfair treatment of Black people compared to white individuals.

“The fact is, we know that, through housing patterns, through employment, through wealth, through a whole range of other things, so often, people of color, Black people, end up with harsh treatment from law enforcement. And other folks doing the exact same thing just don't,” Ellison said.

Pelley then asked Ellison the question that has been on the minds of many of the Americans who watched the trial closely: why would Chauvin assault Floyd?

Ellison said that is “a question we spend a lotta time asking ourselves,” adding that “all we could come up with is what we could divine from his body language and his demeanor.”

Ellison also mentioned the crowd at the scene, which was a focal point throughout the trial.

“And what we saw is that the crowd was demanding that he get up. And then he was staring right back at them defiantly. 'You don't tell me what to do. I do what I wanna do. You people have no control over me. I'm going to show you,”’ he said.

Ellison noted the importance of the video taken by bystanders at the scene, telling Pelley that he has “real doubts” if the country would have known the truth without the footage.

Ellison's comments come nearly a week after a jury found Chauvin guilty of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death.

This verdict came after three weeks of trial, which concluded with 10 hours of jury deliberation.

Chauvin is now being held at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights as he awaits sentencing, which is scheduled for June 16. He faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

The facility he is being held at is the only maximum security prison in Minnesota, according to The New York Times.