Minneapolis’s former mayor says they weren’t enough, but they were essential.
“I would not call today’s verdict ‘justice’ … because justice implies true restoration. But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice.”
That was Minnesota Attorney Gen. Keith Ellison after the prosecution he headed resulted in the historic conviction of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd.
The challenge of justice in public safety is underscored by how difficult it can be just to achieve basic accountability. Police reforms are politically hard to enact. The right thinks they go too far; the left thinks they don’t go far enough. As a result, policymakers have to spend twice the political capital to get them done. This is a big reason why policies that seem like no-brainers aren’t in place everywhere and still require such a fight in city after city.
Throughout my years as an elected official, I grappled with policing in every seat I occupied—Minneapolis city council member, committee chair, and ultimately mayor. I fought for civilian oversight, investments in community-led public safety strategies, and to end such damaging labor practices as putting law-enforcement managers and rank-and-file officers together in the same union.