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Minnesota Attorney General Will Lead Prosecution In George Floyd's Death


This country is experiencing unrest, the likes of which we haven't seen since 1968, after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. A week ago, a black man named George Floyd was killed here. A white officer pinned Floyd's neck to the ground with his knee for almost nine minutes. Protests started here and spread across the country. Most of them have been peaceful, but there has been violence in some places, and we're going to hear from reporters in three cities, starting with Leila Fadel, who's also here in Minneapolis. Good morning, Leila.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Good morning.

KING: Derek Chauvin, the officer charged with Mr. Floyd's murder, many protesters say he is at the center of their demands. What's the latest with Chauvin?

FADEL: Well, as you know, Chauvin - the officer in that video with his knee to George Floyd's neck (inaudible) and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. He's scheduled to appear in court June 8.

And now Keith Ellison, the state's attorney general, was tapped to take the lead in the prosecution, which would typically come under the county attorney. And this is significant. Ellison is a reform-minded attorney general whose platform has been criminal justice reform. And right before this announcement, I spoke to Ellison, and he says it's important not to just focus on prosecuting this one case but to make this a moment, to implement lasting reforms so it doesn't keep happening.

KEITH ELLISON: The loss of life of the Floyd family, the civil judgments that cities have to pay out, the possibility of civil unrest that causes millions of dollars of property damage, all gets sparked because of the prevailing and legitimate belief that there's no justice when a person of color or even a poor white person gets killed or hurt by a police officer.

FADEL: Now protesters are demanding that all four now-fired officers involved in Floyd's death be prosecuted. And Ellison says they have that right, but he says he has to move methodically because this system has a track record of not successfully prosecuting cases where black people die in encounters with the police, even ones that are filmed.

KING: And so here in Minneapolis, we hear people saying things are moving too slowly. He's saying there's a reason for that. In the meantime, we have seen some real violence in this city - fires, police actions. Last night, I was inside before sunset. What went on in the streets?

FADEL: Well, there were large protests during the day against police brutality and systemic racism. But there were definitely smaller crowds out after curfew, and it appeared security forces had been told to take a gentler approach after a pretty violent night in which forces moved into crowds using tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray.

KING: NPR's Leila Fadel here in Minneapolis. Thanks, Leila.

FADEL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
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