Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who gained national prominence during his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic National Committee chair in 2016, will take the lead on all prosecutions related to George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis Police, Gov. Tim Walz said on Sunday. The move is meant to reassure activists and civil rights advocates that the state is determined to seek justice for Floyd’s death, which came after Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into the back of his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Ellison, a former U.S. Representative, has been Attorney General in the state since winning election in 2018. He was both the first African-American elected to statewide office in Minnesota and the first U.S. Muslim to earn statewide office anywhere in the country. Though he was defeated in his bid for DNC chair by Tom Perez a few years ago, he enjoyed strong support from the party’s left wing, and earned endorsements from key Democratic figures like Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, Elizabeth Warren and John Lewis.
Though four officers were involved with Floyd’s death, only one has been charged with any crime so far. That officer, Chauvin, is currently facing charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. However, the Floyd family attorney expressed hope on Sunday that those charges could be upgraded.