Outrage over the Minneapolis police killing of black man George Floyd is sinking Amy Klobuchar’s stock as a potential vice presidential pick for Joe Biden.
The Minnesota senator, who has started the vetting process to be Biden’s vice president, is making missteps in public statements about the incident and facing renewed scrutiny about her prosecutorial record.
Klobuchar quickly released a statement on Tuesday about the incident that happened in her home state.
“We heard his repeated cries for help. We heard him say over and over again that he could not breathe. And now we have seen yet another horrifying and gutwrenching instance of an African American man dying,” Klobuchar said in part of the statement. “Every single person in every single community in this country deserves to feel safe. As the Mayor of Minneapolis noted, this tragic loss of life calls for immediate action.”
Lawyer and CNN commentator Bakari Sellers said that it was a “good statement.” But other activists were outraged that Klobuchar did not specifically mention Floyd’s name.
“How did @amyklobuchar @SenAmyKlobuchar and her team write this statement and not even bother to mention the name #GeorgeFloyd? A number of folks have hit me today about this,” tweeted commentator Roland Martin.
Other users slammed Klobuchar for failing to mention that police officers were responsible for Floyd’s death.
“Yeah…. this is why you shouldn’t be @JoeBiden ’s VP,” tweeted diversity and inclusion activist April Reign, founder of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag that brought attention to the lack of minority nominees during the 2015 Academy Awards.
My statement on the officer-involved death in Minneapolis: pic.twitter.com/HUoGfXEj7R
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) May 26, 2020
Many people pointed to Klobuchar’s prosecutorial record, claiming that she helped create an environment that allowed the police killing to happen.
The Washington Post reported in March 2019 that when she was the Hennepin County attorney, Klobuchar “declined to bring charges in more than two dozen cases in which people were killed in encounters with police” but “aggressively prosecuted smaller offenses” that are “done with the aim of curbing more serious crimes” — sometimes called the broken window theory of policing — but “have had mixed results and have been criticized for their disproportionate effect on poor and minority communities.”
Earlier this year, an Associated Press investigation raised questions about Klobuchar’s handling of a 17-year-old case in which a black teenager was sent to prison for life for firing a stray bullet that killed an 11-year-old girl, suggesting he could be innocent. The controversy put a dent in her presidential bid momentum.
Some of Klobuchar’s harshest critics engage in messy criticism by saying that when she was the Hennepin County attorney, she did not prosecute one of the now-fired officers involved in the Floyd killing, Derick Chauvin, when he was involved in an October 2006 police shooting. A Klobuchar spokeswoman noted that the indecent occurred near the end of her term, just before she joined the Senate in 2007. In 2008, a grand jury declined to charge the officers involved with wrongdoing.
The timing of Floyd’s death came at an already-uncomfortable moment for Biden as he faces backlash for telling radio host Charlamagne tha God last week that those having trouble deciding whether to vote for him or President Trump “ain’t black.”
While Biden apologized for the comment, the controversy brought to light his struggles with appealing to younger black voters as Trump’s campaign attempts to siphon off just enough traditionally Democratic black voters in swing states to gain an electoral edge.
The former vice president and his circle are cognizant of black voters who feel they are owed for delivering Biden a win in South Carolina that cemented his path to the Democratic presidential nomination. And right now, Klobuchar is seen as a toxic figure among that group.
Charlamagne tha God expressed contempt for Klobuchar as a running mate pick even before the Minneapolis controversy, exposing risks she would bring to the ticket.
“I think that would be suicide for Joe Biden’s campaign,” he said. “If he did that, especially at this moment, after the comments that he made … He would be a fool not to put a black woman as his running mate.”
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