Who is Keith Ellison? (14)

Over the past three weeks we have run thirteen installments of our “Who is Keith Ellison?” series regarding the endorsed Democratic candidate for Minnesota’s Fifth District (Minneapolis) congressional seat. The series is based both on original reporting and on information compiled from the public record.

While the Minneapolis Star Tribune sat on its hands, out-of-towners took a look at what is by any reasonable standard an interesting story. Yesterday the inside-the-beltway publication Roll Call ran a story by Dan Rasmussen on the issues raised by Ellison’s background; we quoted the Roll Call story at length in “What’s so funny ’bout peace, love and cop-killers?”

Over the weeekend the Star Tribune held a story on Ellison’s background by Rochelle Olson and Mark Brunswick that was slated to run in the newspaper this past Sunday. Today that story sees the light of day: “Ellison’s past views drawing scrutiny.” The story runs with a sidebar: “The words of Keith Ellison.”

I pieced together Ellison’s long involvement with the Nation of Islam in detail in “Who is Keith Ellison? (2).” As late as 1997, as reported at the time by Jim Parsons in the Star Tribune itself, Ellison appeared as a “supporter of Farrakhan” at a public hearing supporting the veracity of the anti-Semitic diatribe of Joanne Jackson. Ellison read the statement that was subsequently published in the Minneapolis Spokesman-Recorder as the statement of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Study Group of the Nation of Islam.

Today the Star Tribune finds no space for this illuminating incident. It is an incident that belies Ellison’s statement in today’s article that he “has never been a member of the Nation of Islam, has never met or talked to Farrakhan, and only worked occasionally with representatives of the Nation of Islam on economic issues of mutual interest.”

In the 1990′s, Ellison was a radical agitator against the Minneapolis police together with convicted murderer and Minneapolis gang leader Sharif Willis. In September 1992, Minneapolis police officer Jerry Haaf was the victim of a cold-blooded assassination by four of Willis’s gangbangers. In October 1992, Ellison led a demonstration against the Minneapolis police together with Willis in support of Willis’s United for Justice gang front.

In February 1993 Ellison spoke at a demonstration in support of one of the Haaf murder defendants during the defendant’s trial. Ellison led the crowd assembled at the courthouse in a chant: “We don’t get no justice, you don’t get no peace.” Four of Willis’s Vice Lords gangbangers were subsequently convicted of Haaf’s murder, and within a couple of years federal authorities succeeded in sending Willis himself back to the big house. Today the Star Tribune finds no space for these illuminating events, recounted in greater detail in “Who is Keith Ellison?(9).”

In 1995 Ellison led a demonstration against the the FBI in Minneapolis on behalf of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, accusing the FBI itself of conspiring to assassinate Farrakhan when the FBI apprehended Qubilah Shabazz for attempting to arrange a hit on Farrakhan. Today the Star Tribune somehow misses this interesting episode.

In Februay 2000, Ellison spoke at a fundraiser on behalf of Symbionese Liberation Army murderer and cop-killer wannabe Kathleen Soliah/Sara Jane Olson. He demanded Soliah/Olson’s freedom. He praised convicted cop-killer Assata Shakur, on the lam in the sheltering arms of Fidel Castro in Havana, now named to the FBI’s most wanted domestic terrorist list. Ellison also had kind words for convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. Today the Star Tribune mentions Ellison’s speech and omits his demand for Soliah/Olson’s freedom, though it mentions his description of the prosecution of Assata Shakur as politically motivated. Unfortunately, Olson and Bruswick don’t bother to ask Ellison about his advocacy of convicted cop-killers or about his demand for the freedom of Soliah/Olson.

The Star Tribune’s story is nevertheless a start. Today the Star Tribune has broken the ice. Perhaps others, if not the Star Tribune itself, will follow up.

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