Minnesota AG says black Minnesotans have reason to fear local police

Minnesota Attorney General Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonMinnesota lawmakers blast pharmaceutical industry lawsuit over insulin affordability law OVERNIGHT ENERGY: DOJ whistleblower says California emissions probe was 'abuse of authority' | EPA won't defend policy blocking grantees from serving on boards | Minnesota sues Exxon, others over climate change Minnesota sues Exxon, others over climate change MORE (D) said Sunday that black Minnesotans are justified in their fear of the local police as Minneapolis and other cities explode in unrest over the death of George Floyd.

Asked by Fox News’s Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceBattle over reopening schools heats up Sunday shows - Spotlight shifts to reopening schools Chris Wallace presses DeVos on threats to withhold funding from schools that don't reopen MORE whether African Americans in the state have “reason to fear” the police, Ellison answered “sadly, yes.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“There is a history that has been repeated time and time again,” Ellison added on "Fox News Sunday," hastening to note “many officers are great people … I know so many of them and I think the chief is an extraordinary person and the mayor and the council deserve a lot of credit for appointing Mr. [Medaria] Arradondo.”

Arradondo is the first African American to lead the Minneapolis Police Department. 

However, Ellison said the head of the Minneapolis police union, Lt. Bob Kroll, “operates as sort of an alternative chief who I think undermines good order in the department…  so I think we have our challenges in front of us.”

Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, was accused of calling Ellison a "terrorist" when the Ellison was elected to Congress. That 2007 lawsuit, brought by four black police officers, including Arradondo, also accused the department of racial discrimination. 

“I think we can reform we will reform and there’s a lot of great officers who want to reform and it’s good to have a chief who wants to reform,” Ellison said Sunday.

Wallace also asked Ellison about a quote the attorney general cited by Martin Luther King, Jr., in which the civil rights leader said rioting is “how the unheard get heard.”

“The violence really is a negative thing but I think what Martin Luther King was trying to say is rather than simply dismiss the outrage and the rage that people express after decades, really centuries… let’s try to address it rather than pound it down with massive force,” Ellison said. “People are upset for a reason and to dismiss those reasons means we’re going to be dealing with them again and again and again.”

Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Ellison added that further charges remain possible for Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was seen in a video tape with his knee on Floyd's neck, as well as the three other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest. All four officers have been fired.

“[A]t this point, there is the two charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. That complaint could well be amended to include other additional charges or even higher charges. And the other individuals are not out of the woods. The investigation is ongoing,” he said.

“It’s not my case. But, you know, certainly, aiding and abetting is a possibility and there are others as well. So, I think that is something that the county attorney, Mike Freeman, is looking into now, and we expect to hear something in the, you know, fairly recently, near future,” he added.

Ellison on NBC also criticized President TrumpDonald John TrumpWayfair refutes QAnon-like conspiracy theory that it's trafficking children Stone rails against US justice system in first TV interview since Trump commuted his sentence Federal appeals court rules Trump admin can't withhold federal grants from California sanctuary cities MORE and Attorney General Bill Barr for suggesting that “far-left” agitators were responsible for rioting, although Ellison said he had also heard reports of “suspicious behavior” among those instigating vandalism and property damage.

“They have not brought a single pattern or practice lawsuit against a major municipality where there’s systemic police abuses in America. They have actually tried to walk back their involvement in key states where they existed under the Obama Administration,” he said. “[M]aking incendiary comments about who's to blame here as opposed to actually investigating it isn't helpful. We need their help to be more constructive and less assigning, you know, blame on matters that, actually, we don't know the truth of yet.”

--This report was updated at 11:00 a.m.