Minneapolis, MN – Minnesota State Attorney General Keith Ellison, who has publicly expressed his support for antifa in the past, has taken over as lead prosecutor in the murder case against fired Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced on Sunday that Ellison will be the lead prosecutor in any of the cases related to the May 25 in-custody death of 46-year-old George Floyd, the Star Tribune reported.
Walz said he made the decision to put the state’s attorney general in charge of the prosecution after speaking with Floyd’s family members.
“Keith Ellison, our attorney general of Minnesota, needs to lead this case,” the governor said, according to the Star Tribune. “They wanted the system to work for them. They wanted to believe that there was trust, and they wanted to believe that the facts would be heard and justice would be served.”
Just days before, Ellison urged rioters not to treat the National Guard soldiers deployed throughout the city the same way as they have been treating police, FOX News reported.
“I’d like everyone to recognize the fact that the National Guard just a week ago was administering COVID-19 tests to help people…The presence you see on the street, don’t react to them the way you might react to the Minneapolis Police Department. It’s not the same group,” the state’s attorney general told the violent masses.
“They have different leadership, different authority, and their job is to try to bring peace and calm back again,” he said. “Please remember that this is not the group that you associate with unfair conduct, but it’s a group that in fact just a week ago was trying to make sure that Minnesotans could survive and thrive and live because we are still in the middle of a pandemic.”
Ellison vowed that he will “vigorously” pursue justice, truth and accountability in prosecuting Chauvin, NBC News reported.
“[But] let me also note a dose of reality,” he added. “Prosecuting police officers for misconduct, including homicide and murder, is very difficult, and if you look at the cases that have been in front of the public in the last many years, it’s easy to see that is true.”
“Every single link in the prosecutorial chain will come under attack as we present this case to a jury or a fact finder,” he said.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said he welcomes Ellison’s assistance on the case against the now-former officer.
“There have been recent developments in the facts of the case where the help and expertise of the Attorney General would be valuable,” Freeman said in a statement after the governor’s announcement, according to the Star Tribune.
Ellison, a Democrat, made headlines in 2018 when he tweeted a beaming selfie of himself holding Mark Bray’s “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook,” according to WCCO.
“At @MoonPalaceBooks and I just found the book that strike [sic] fear in the heart of @realDonaldTrump,” the caption on the since-deleted post read.
One day prior to Walz’s announcement, U.S. Attorney General William Barr released a statement condemning the widespread destruction and violence that has left cities across the country in flames in the week since Floyd’s death, KTTV reported.
Barr alleged that agitators, including antifa, have been exploiting peaceful demonstrations in order to perpetuate “their own separate, violent and extremist agenda.”
“The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly,” Barr vowed, according to KTTV. “Federal law enforcement actions will be directed at apprehending and charging the violent radical agitators who have hijacked peaceful protest and are engaged in violations of federal law.”
On Sunday, President Donald Trump announced that “the United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.”
Within hours, Ellison’s son, Minneapolis City Councilman Jeremiah Ellison, tweeted that he was officially declaring his “support for ANTIFA.”
“Unless someone can prove to me ANTIFA is behind the burning of black and immigrant owned businesses in my ward, I’ll keep focusing on stopping the white power terrorist THE ARE ACTUALLY ATTACKING US!” the councilman wrote.
On Saturday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey alleged that “white supremacists” are among those who are actually behind the country’s widespread riots.
“We are now confronting white supremacists, members of organized crime, out of state instigators, and possibly even foreign actors to destroy and destabilize our city and our region,” Frey tweeted.
Chauvin, 44, was arrested on Friday and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death during his arrest.
Officers had responded to a call about a counterfeit $20 bill that Floyd had allegedly used to make a purchase at a deli.
Store employees pointed out the suspect to police and they arrested him.
The complaint used to charge Chauvin said Floyd actively resisted arrest and then fought being put in the back of a police car once he had been handcuffed.
Viral cell phone video showed then-Officer Chauvin and three other officers holding Floyd on the ground.
The video showed Officer Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, during which time Floyd lost consciousness.
Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after he was unresponsive.
Floyd was pronounced dead 90 minutes later at the hospital.
Chauvin was taken into custody by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on May 29 and held on a $500,000 bond, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington announced, according to WCCO.
According to charging documents, the medical examiner’s preliminary report found no physical evidence that Floyd had suffered from asphyxiation or strangulation at the hands of the Minneapolis police.
The preliminary autopsy findings indicated Floyd had died from a combination of his underlying medical problems, possible substances, and from being restrained by police.