Ellison enters stage left

It has been my mission since June 2006 to id. Keith Ellison for what he is. A/k/a Keith X Ellison and Keith Ellison-Muhammad, he first rose to prominence in Minneapolis as a local leader of the Nation of Islam and supporter of the Vice Lords gangbangers who murdered Minneapolis Police Department Officer Jerry Haaf with a shot in the back in 1992. “The Vice Lords wanted to kill a cop. Any cop,” Bob Collins recalled for MPR News 25 years later.

Ellison teamed up with Vice Lords leader Sharif Willis to lead crowds chanting their support for the gangbangers who killed Haaf when they went to trial for his murder in 1993. To tell that story and others that illuminate where Ellison is coming from, I drew on a clip file that a source slipped to me on a street corner in downtown Minneapolis after the Fifth District DFL endorsed Ellison to succeed Martin Sabo in Congress. See, for example, my October 2006 Weekly Standard article “Louis Farrakhan’s first congressman.” I last wrote about Ellison for the Standard in “The trouble with Keith Ellison.”

Never having been called to account for his past work with the Nation of Islam, Ellison is now Attorney General of the State of Minnesota. If it is some kind of a perverse joke, perhaps the man and the moment have met. Governor Walz has now handed Ellison responsibility for the prosecution of the four MPD officers charged in the death of George Floyd.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman stood at Ellison’s side during a press conference yesterday. The role of Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Amy Sweasy, who had taken charge of the investigation on behalf of Freeman’s office, is unclear. Last year Sweasy successfully prosecuted former MPD Officer Mohamed Noor for the murder of Justine Damond. Based on what I saw in the Noor trial, I think Sweasy must be the most capable prosecutor by far within shouting distance of the Floyd case.

Ellison called the press conference to announce the elevation of the murder charge against Derek Chauvin from third degree to second degree. The revised three-count complaint against Derek Chauvin is posted online here. It is entirely conclusory.

Ellison also announced murder charges against the three other former MPD officers on the scene. The two-count criminal complaint against Officer J. Anthony Kueng is representative and is posted here. The complaint states no facts that illuminate the culpability of Kueng and the other bystander officers. Again, it is entirely conclusory. The Star Tribune reports here on the new charges.

Ellison himself shed no light on the new charges in the press conference. I have posted the CBS News video of the press conference below followed by a brief discussion of the new charges.

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