Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s memoir of the Chauvin prosecution — Break the Wheel: Ending the Cycle of Police Violence — was published last week. It’s good to be Keith Ellison. He’s got the Star Tribune doing public relations for him. He’s got the New York Times doing public relations for him. He’s got the Washington Post doing public relations for him. He’s got NPR doing public relations for him. In the book’s acknowledgments Ellison expresses gratitude to a public relations firm — one of three sets of consultants he called on in the Chauvin case. As I say, it’s good to be Keith Ellison.
What he doesn’t have is anyone taking a critical look at the book. I am not a glutton for punishment, but I have now mastered the Ellison oeuvre — two books, both memoirs — and I am not doing public relations for him. I am doing the job that Americans of the mainstream media won’t do.
I wrote about Ellison’s first memoir in the 2014 Star Tribune column “Ellison remembers to forget.” Ellison didn’t appreciate the column. He took offense and seized the opportunity to raise money off it, but you can see that I am the soul of fairness in the column.
This week I have been writing a review/essay addressing Ellison’s new memoir. I have posted this series of notes on the Chauvin book this week while I have taken my eye off the news to work on it. This may be the last one in the series, although I may return to it by popular demand (just kidding) tomorrow.
I have been reporting on Ellison since June 2006. He is an ambitious man whose path to power has been abetted by the suppression of his past. In this he has had the continuing assistance of the mainstream media. He’s black. He’s Muslim. He’s historic. He’s in a protected class. Ilhan Omar follows in his footsteps, but Ellison is the guy who is always calculating and always planning ahead. He wasn’t satisfied with a congressional sinecure and he isn’t satisfied with his current sinecure.
Break the Wheel comes with a planted axiom. Ellison implies throughout that blacks are the victims of a murderous rampage by the police. The case of Derek Chauvin is representative of the racist “cycle of police violence” that Ellison touts in the book’s subtitle.
Ellison fails to cite any statistical analysis or study to support the planted axiom. Indeed, the Chauvin case itself lacks evidence of racial bias on the part of Chauvin or the other police officers involved in the encounter with George Floyd. The racist “cycle of violence” is assumed.
Ellison offers a litany of names in lieu of any argument: “There are names we all know: Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown.” If you find the litany persuasive, you might enjoy this book. You might want to promote the book on Ellison’s behalf, like your betters at the Star Tribune, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and NPR. In the book’s acknowledgments, by the way, Ellison expresses gratitude to “the leaders of Black Lives Matter movement…” The litany works for them.
In March 2022 the Manhattan Institute published Robert VerBruggen’s study Fatal Police Shootings and Race: A Review of the Evidence and Suggestions for Future Research (posted in PDF here with footnotes). Readers interested in a serious review of the issues and the evidence might want to take a look at it.