The Bottom Line

‘There’s no trust’: George Floyd, the police and racism in the US

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on the Floyd murder trial, justice and calls to ‘defund’ the police in the US.

As the Attorney General of Minnesota, Keith Ellison is the chief prosecutor of the four policemen charged in the murder of George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis on May 25.

More than 30 years ago, Ellison was a student activist in Minnesota, where he organised the community to stand up to police brutality.

Years later he became the first Muslim member of Congress, and the first Black American to be elected to a statewide position in Minnesota.

“It’s true that I come from a background where civil rights have been a priority my whole life, but all I’ve really wanted is to have fairness,” he said. “Not more, not less.”

While he has not taken a public stand on the calls to “defund” the police, he said that one major problem between US society and the police is that “there’s no trust any more”.

He dismissed President Donald Trump’s executive order on policing, signed this week, as “too little too late” and urged legislators to listen to the people demanding serious police reform and accountability.

“When you have an excessive force problem, you have a community cooperation problem.”

Ellison argued that the struggle to rid the police of racism and militarism will be difficult, because in the end, the police are a reflection of wider society. “And if our citizenry holds those kinds of biases that widespread, then, of course, our police departments do,” he said.

Watch Ellison’s full interview with The Bottom Line host Steve Clemons.