Ellison, a prominent ally of Bernie Sanders during the Vermont Senator’s two presidential offers, has been recognized by both sides of the Democratic Party for his role in Chauvin’s trial. Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and longtime critic of Sanders, tweeted that she was “so grateful” that Ellison was responsible for the case. Progressives like Justice Democratic spokesman Waleed Shahid praised “his leadership”. Rev. Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader, also selected Ellison for his role.
“He is a living example of how the state’s top law enforcement agencies should not only respond to a crime but also gather evidence and facts,” said Donna Brazile, former chairwoman of the DNC. “He was phenomenal. There is no other way to describe it. He filled a void. He has taken steady leadership. “
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced last May that Ellison would be at the forefront of Chauvin’s law enforcement. A decision made following Floyd’s family members, activists and lawmakers who raised concerns about the local prosecutor who had led the case until then.
Hennepin District Attorney Mike Freeman had administered it and would have been responsible for prosecuting it. That changed, however, after 10 state officials sent Walz a letter in which they – and especially their black voters – no longer relied on Freeman’s ability to “impartially investigate and prosecute the case.
Ellison, however, was a more natural fit. As a former lawmaker, he was Minnesota’s first black member of Congress and the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, where he represented a Minneapolis-based district for over a decade. Early in his career, he spent 16 years in the civil rights field – five of them as the director of the Legal Rights Center, a Minnesota law firm that advocates racial and social justice. As a law student, he led a protest against police brutality and failure to prosecute violating officials in Minneapolis. He was also selected by police officers in his own life, he said, because he is black.
“He was the right person for the moment. He and his team have changed the course of history, ”said Nina Turner, Sanders’ former campaign co-chair who worked with Ellison during the Senator’s presidential bid. “He is very down to earth, very committed, very focused, but also warm-hearted. … With all his intellect and skills, he is a black man in America and has also understood the historical significance from lived experience.”
In an interview, Jackson called Ellison “tough” and said, “He has the ability to relate to all people and give them a level of comfort.”
However, Ellison’s record has also attracted criticism. Minneapolis Police Lt. Bob Kroll, President of the Local Police Officers Federation, said in 2018 When Ellison ran for attorney general, he said, “Keith Ellison has a long history and it’s a negative story with the Minneapolis Police Department. I don’t believe it wholeheartedly.” [he respects law enforcement]. I think he has a different agenda which, quite frankly, is law enforcement. “
That same year, Ellison’s ex-girlfriend Domestic abuse allegations published on social media. He denied the allegations that were nearing the height of the #MeToo movement and nearly derailed his campaign. Ellison defeated his GOP opponent Doug Wardlow by 4 percentage points in 2018, the smallest margin of any statewide Democrat on the ballot this year.
Ellison’s reputation as an unabashed progressive was highlighted when he ran for DNC presidency in 2017 – he was supported by Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. He eventually lost the race, a blow to the liberal wing of the entire Democratic Party.
Despite Ellison’s 2018 win and the current momentum, his future policy options are somewhat limited. Walz, a Democrat, is in his first term after winning 11 points in 2018 and has broken records for fundraising ahead of the 2022 gubernatorial election. And given the hits the governor has received from progressives for his criminal justice handling, Ellison Walz actually did a favor by securing Chauvin’s conviction.
Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith are also incumbent Democrats – and quite young by Senate standards.
An Ellison spokesman declined to comment on the story.
“He can be a transformative figure, and I think he has the ability for a lot of great things,” said James Zogby, a DNC member who served with Ellison on the national party’s platform design committee in 2016. “He would be a great senator.” , a great governor – whatever Keith Ellison thinks he is doing, he will be good at it. “
Though opportunities to advance his career are limited in the short term, the rise of Black Lives Matter and the widespread belief that the country’s criminal justice system is flawed has increased the role of attorneys general and prosecutors and given Ellison a national platform forward.
“The best use of [Ellison’s] Talent is right where he is right now, “Turner said, although she added,” that doesn’t mean he won’t be going elsewhere. “
Ellison is up for re-election as attorney general next year. Wardlow, a former state official who served as general counsel for MyPillow, the bed company owned by Donald Trump’s ally Mike Lindell, announced in February that it was up and running again.
On Tuesday, Ellison said he would not call the verdict on Chauvin’s case “justice”.
“Because justice implies true restoration,” he said. “But it is accountability that is the first step towards justice. And now the cause of justice is in your hands. And when I say your hands, I mean the hands of the people of the United States. “