Keith Ellison

Justice and power must be brought together so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just.  Blaise Pascal

About a month before I had the good fortune to write for Insight News, I was breaking bread with a couple dear friends here in Santa Fe, NM when the name Keith Ellison came up in a political conversation.  The Minnesota Attorney General had really impressed one of them four years ago during the Democratic National Convention.  After hearing Ellison speak during a Conversations with Al McFarlane broadcast recently, I understood. He was indeed impassioning. 

“We will need a Roosevelt-type presidency, taking bold, dramatic steps like never before.  The cancellation of student debt; a massive rent subsidy; and money to get by until the economy gets better would be a good start.  That’s what it’s going to take.  Biden and the Democratic Party must be strong and more so the wiser.  If not, we will end up with someone far worse than Trump,” Ellison declared.

With major concerns stretching his office in three different directions of responsibility, and with the world closely watching the process and outcome of one in particular, Ellison took the time to reflect on key issues impacting Minnesota residents.  He said communities of color are experiences disparate  impact from the COVID19 Pandemic; many overburdened households are getting slammed with exorbitant energy bills as a result of a bitter cold winter; and neighborhoods are understandably on edge, praying there will be peace and justice as the trial of Derek Chauvin, accused of murder in the death of George Floyd, begins.

“It is important that those of us praying for justice commence to understand some of the components of the legal process and some of the bases of arguments for the defense.  Juror selections will take approximately three weeks as each potential candidate will be questioned individually due to COVID restrictions.  It won’t be easy finding citizens to come forth ready, willing, and able to reach a just and fair outcome, but the state’s case would prepare for the worse, and hope for the best.  Since the coroner could not say precisely why the victim took his last breath, the defense will use Floyd’s use of drugs and underlying health issues as possible death culprits.”

But there has already been a degree of justice, Ellison said.

“More people will have to answer to what happened to George Floyd.  They are going to have to be held accountable and judged.  There have been cases where people have been killed, hurt, or abused and no one said or did anything. We know the criminal justice system has seldom been fair.  Still, I’m striving for and praying for no one to think they are above the law; for everyone to be equal before the law; and for no one to be able to beat the law.  We’re going to do the very best we can so justice is done; a fair trial for the defendant and the state.

Minnesota has made 30 million dollars available to support Hennepin County and Minneapolis law enforcement needs and additional personnel.

“Protest safely,” Ellison urges.  “Raise your voices for justice.  There’s never been social progress without protests.  Just know that throwing a gas can through broken glass windows will never help the cause.  Community leaders talking to the residents and keeping them informed with trusted information and data will definitely lessen anxiety and negative outcomes down the road.”  

Ellison said his office advocating for consumer interests regarding public utilities.  “The problem isn’t that there’s not enough natural gas.  The problem is the utility companies must buy the gas as a commodity at a spot cash price or buy with a kind of future wager.  A whole lot of people needed a lot of gas quickly.  The spot price went straight through the roof and the utility company bought it.  People had to stay warm especially with a virus and its mutations running rampant.  The utility company has to defray its cost.”

Several weeks ago, a hearing was held before the Public Utilities Commission.  Basically, two questions were asked.  What happened and how was it going to be fixed?  Ellison said his office was on the lookout for price gouging consumers with unfair and discriminatory spiking prices.  “My purpose for running for Attorney General was to help people afford their lives and to live with dignity, safety, and respect.  Give my office a call.  Let us gather the facts from you and then decide how we can help.  If we can’t, perhaps we can find resources willing to assist.  We must remember that as cold as Minnesota gets in winter months, it gets just as hot in the summer.  Please do not suffer in silence,” Ellison said.

Ellison pivoted to update listeners on Coronavirus vaccinations. He said by mid-summer, anyone who wants a vaccine would be able to get one.  He advise residents to embrace the health science and get vaccinated. “Virology, the study of viruses of medical importance and the diseases they produce, has been around for a long time.  This COVID-19 Pandemic is certainly not a conspiracy nor is the vaccine just for people of wealth and European descent,” he said, especially encouraging Black  and Brown people to get vaccinated.

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