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Dimming VP Hopes, Klobuchar's Failure to Prosecute Police Misconduct Highlighted as Outrage Over Killing of George Floyd Intensifies

"You can't refuse to prosecute killer cops and act like you don't have blood on your hands."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) joins Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden on stage during a campaign event on March 2, 2020 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

 

As unrest continues in the Twin Cities over the police killing of George Floyd, the possible choice of Sen. Amy Klobuchar to be Joe Biden's vice presidential running mate faces mounting opposition as attention turns to the Minnesota Democrat's troubling record as a prosecutor in the state who repeatedly refused to hold law enforcement to account for misconduct.

Critics are citing revelations that Klobuchar declined to charge the police officer who killed Floyd in a 2006 killing of another Minneapolis man as evidence the Minnesota Democrat should not be on the party's presidential ticket.

"This should be an automatic disqualification for considering her for VP," tweeted Washington Post Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah. 

According to the Associated Press, Officer Derek Chauvin—who knelt on Floyd's neck for despite the victim's pleas for mercy—was one of six officers who shot Wayne Reyes to death in 2006. 

As the Guardian reported, Chauvin was not charged in relation to the killing:

Although Klobuchar was the Hennepin county attorney at the time of an October 2006 police shooting involving Chauvin, she did not prosecute and instead the case went to a grand jury that declined to charge the officers with wrongdoing in 2008.

"Amy Klobuchar could have had him arrested and charged then," tweeted attorney Rebecca Kavanagh. "She didn't. She just left it to a grand jury and predictably they failed to indict."

In declining to prosecute the case Klobuchar was acting in accordance with her record as a prosecutor where she did not bring charges in over two dozen police shootings and killings.

"Her failure to prosecute police who killed black men was matched by racially slanted eagerness to prosecute black men on the basis of highly dubious evidence," Norman Solomon wrote for Common Dreams Thursday.

"Klobuchar declined to prosecute the cop who just murdered a man, when he murdered another man," tweeted economist Marshall Steinbaum.

The senator's response Tuesday to Floyd's murder had already been panned by critics, including Black Agenda Report's Margaret Kimberley.

Activist Ashley Fairbanks ripped Klobuchar for, in her view, attempting to avoid complicity in Chauvin's killing of Floyd.

"You can't refuse to prosecute killer cops and act like you don't have blood on your hands," tweeted Fairbanks.

Her time as prosecutor is complicating Klobuchar's efforts to be selected as Biden's running mate as her candidacy is increasingly seen by the country's black community—a loyal and large voting bloc for the Democratic Party—as unacceptable.

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As Adrienne Shropshire, executive director of advocacy group BlackPAC, told the Star Tribune Friday, Democrats need to focus on getting voters who sat out 2016 back to the polls. That means selecting someone who can appeal to those groups, she said. 

"Many of those voters happen to be young voters," said Shropshire. "They happened to be black men, and younger black men in particular. And those also happen to be the people we see out demonstrating in Minneapolis today."

New York Times report February on Klobuchar's record—damningly entitled "Klobuchar Ramped Up Prosecutions, Except in Cases Against Police"—quoted Minneapolis civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong, a former president of the city's chapter of the NAACP, as saying the senator "has refused to accept accountability for the harm that she caused."

"There is an entire community that suffered under her leadership," said Armstrong.

Armstrong on Thursday told HuffPost that "there is absolutely no way that she is qualified to become Biden's VP nominee," due in part to "her failure to hold a single officer accountable for police shootings, dozens of which happened on her watch."

Other activists and Democrats echoed that assessment of Klobuchar in comment to HuffPost, with Take Action Minnesota spokeswoman Kenza Hadj-Moussa calling the senator a potential "disadvantage" to Biden.

"If I was advising Vice President Biden," said Hadj-Moussa, "I would not point to Sen. Klobuchar as a vice presidential pick who could stand next to him and be part of building a new future."

Klobuchar's prosecution of Myon Burrell, a young black man, for murder in 2002 has also come under scrutiny as evidence has indicated he may be innocent and that his prosecution was grossly mishandled. The senator's record and the current unrest, wrote the Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart, "only serves to highlight why Klobuchar as Biden's running mate would be a bitter pill for black voters to swallow."

Biden himself has run into trouble with the black community in the past week, primarily for a comment on May 22 that people who support Trump over him "ain't black."

As Princeton professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor wrote for the Times Friday, the former vice president's assumption of familiarity with the black community is part of the problem:

It was a joke that Joe Biden thought would show his "insider" status with black voters. Instead, it made him look arrogant in assuming he has standing among young or working-class African-Americans. He sounded like any other well-heeled politician who has failed to grasp the enormity of the challenges.

With that gaffe fresh in people's minds and the developing situation in Minneapolis pointing back toward her time as prosecutor, Klobuchar's chances of becoming the vice presidential nominee are fading.

And the senator's attempts, as the unrest and anger grew, to keep a low profile may have done her more harm than good by bringing attention to her inaction 14 years ago to bring Chauvin to justice.

"Klobuchar's minimal visibility as this horror unfolded in her home state is a tacit admission of guilt," tweeted New York magazine writer Frank Rich.

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