Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison Named Prosecutor in George Floyd Case

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Jun 02, 2020

With protests swelling globally in response to George Floyd’s death on May 25 by a Minneapolis police officer, Minnesota governor Tim Walz announced on May 31 that he appointed Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison to oversee the upcoming criminal case. “With a large degree of humility and great seriousness,” Ellison tweeted his acceptance in the investigation the next day.


According to CBS Minnesota, Floyd’s family had requested that Ellison replace Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman and Minneapolis City Council agreed. After two days on the job, Ellison told CNN in a recent article that nothing is off the table regarding charges. 

"We are looking very carefully at holding everybody accountable who failed to do their duty and fell below the legal requirements of their position, or did something affirmatively that would be in violation of the law," Ellison said. "When we are ready, and that won’t be long from now, we plan on taking the proper and deliberate action."

And the calls for action are legion. Before Ellison stepped in, Freeman leveled third-degree murder charges against former officer Derek Chauvin on May 29; Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. But the other three officers involved Floyd’s death have yet to be charged. To pressure Ellison—the first Muslim ever elected to Congress—to arrest and charge all of the officers with murder, Muslim Advocates announced today (June 1) that it launched a call to action to get Americans to pressure him to do so. 

“We know that at least four officers were involved in the arrest and murder of George Floyd and at least three have been caught on video kneeling on him against the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department,” said Muslim Advocates executive director Farhana Khera. “We call on Attorney General Ellison to ensure that all officers involved in this heinous murder are held accountable and face charges that fit their actions.”

But as MPR News reported on June 1, Ellison might face some challenges. For one, the stakes are high for him to not lose. “Even if he turns this over to somebody else, this [is] now such a high-profile case that becomes a referendum, in part, on him,” Hamline University professor David Schultz told MPR. 

And then there’s politics, stemming from Ellison’s decade-long career in Congress’s Democratic party. According to MPR, Republicans started calculating how to discredit Ellison during a remotely held Republican state convention on May 30, where Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) reportedly accused the AG of siding with law-offenders. “We do not need Keith Ellison telling us that criminals are the ones that are the victims,” Emmer reportedly said. “They are criminals and they need to be arrested, they need to be jailed and they need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

Dismissing the criticism, Ellison told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on June 1, "I can assure you we are taking a fresh look. We plan to hold everyone accountable who is legally culpable.”

To learn more Muslim Advocates’ petition to Ellison, click here.