Amy Klobuchar gave Derek Chauvin a free hand to murder George Floyd.

By Anatole d’Ecotopia

It makes a certain kind of sense that Senator Amy Klobuchar would announce the upgrade of charges against the police officers indicted for the death of George Floyd. After all, Senator Klobuchar sits on the U.S. Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary, and Mr. Floyd’s unfortunate demise occurred in her home state of Minnesota, which she currently represents.

But it also makes a certain other kind of sense.

Long before Joe Biden became confirmed as the Democratic Party’s candidate in the November Presidential contest, he had announced his intentions to seek a woman as his running mate. As one of the other former competing nominees for that candidacy — and, in particular, one of several who’s strategically timed exit from the race effectively guaranteed Biden’s nomination — Klobuchar is on the short list of those considered likely to be that woman.

But Amy Klobuchar is on another short list as well — one that makes her presence on the ticket at least slightly problematic.

Prior to winning her Senate seat, Klobuchar served eight years as a Minnesota public prosecutor. During that tenure, Amy Klobuchar joined the short list of public prosecutors who declined to formally press charges against Derek Chauvin, the police officer now charged with second-degree murder in the death of George Floyd. This is also a fairly short list. Prior to being charged with murder, Chauvin managed to have 17 complaints brought against him in 20 years of service as a Minneapolis police officer.

The most noteworthy of these incidents prior to George Floyd’s death was a shooting death that occurred in 2006. Klobuchar describes as “a lie” allegations that she played a role in Chauvin’s 2006 exoneration, raising the entirely valid point that she had already joined the U.S. Senate by the time the 2006 shooting was referred to a grand jury by her successor in the Hennepin County DA’s office. However, this is just one incident among many during Klobuchar’s tenure in the DA’s Office. Over two dozen officer-involved fatalities occurred during her tenure. Every single one was sent to a grand jury. Resulting prosecutions were virtually nil.

No matter how much Klobuchar attempts to place upon others the onus of the relaxed standards that made possible a Derek Chauvin, it is clear that she played a role. As a potential Joe Biden running mate, that role can be expected to meet far more scrutiny than it did in her own bid for the nomination earlier in this cycle. Anything that even remotely smacks of leniency toward police brutality or mistreatment of minority communities could infinitely damage the already difficult task of gaining the trust of those communities.

Gaining that trust is going to be one of the most challenging obstacles Joe Biden faces — not on the strength of recent and embarrassing gaffes, but on the strength of his prior record. He previously played significant roles in passing the Comprehensive Crime Control Act (1984) and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (1994), both of which helped lay the foundation for the post-9/11 militarization of police and sentencing practices disproportionately impacting communities of color. 

Biden has also supported Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Defense of Marriage Act, and was an early and staunch opponent of desegregation busing. In later years, and particularly as vice-president to Barack Obama, Biden has had opportunities to evolve and change positions on many of these issues — and has frequently and explicitly done precisely that. Even so, the last thing he needs on his ticket is a running mate who has far more recently embraced “law and order” positions not far removed from Biden’s own earlier hardline stance.

Amy Klobuchar’s primary support base is mainstream Democrats who are voting for Biden anyway. If she were not female, she would likely not even be in consideration for the ticket. In terms of broadening support among progressives, Elizabeth Warren would be a far better choice. In terms of broadening support outside of white progressives, a woman of color would be an even better choice — possibly Kamala Harris, possibly others.

In the final analysis, it’s hard to see much gain from the Klobuchar connection and all too easy to see potential baggage. Biden can distance himself from his stance on issues 40 years ago that would disqualify him now (the Trump campaign feels otherwise… but of course they do). It’s much harder for Amy Klobuchar to distance herself from a culture of police enablement she at least tacitly supported as recently as 2006 — and ultimately, not worth the effort.

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