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Minneapolis city councilman weighs in on the state of distrust

Jeremiah Ellison represents Ward 5 in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS — Question: That distrust is our failure to own. Could you explain that a little bit?

Ellison: I think that in one way, the city enterprise is one institution. But, in a lot of ways, because of how we have allowed our policing institutions to become their own institution ... I think the city enterprise over the last 150 years has allowed for that. We have an independent police force that lacks accountability.

Question: Did it make you sad or upset that last night there was again clear evidence that there is no trust?

Ellison: I think it made me sad that in an ideal world, we would have been able to tell the public what happened without having to show the tragic last moments of that man's life.

The only reason that was really needed was - and I think critically needed - was because right now I think the city and police department won't be believed. I think partially that's rooted in a long history, but also rooted in the immediate history that George Floyd's own death report was mis-characterized.

Question: The anger?

Ellison: I don't think people are mad at only their local police force. I think people are mad at policing as an institution when Jacob Blake gets shot in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin that lands viscerally for people here. When people wake up everyday to the fact that Breonna Taylor ... there's been no justice for her murder, people feel that here.

Question: How do we even start heading in the right direction of just figuring out what to do with the mistrust? 

Ellison: In a lot of ways, the answer is what it has been for a long time. I think policing as our only means as a public safety has been a failure. Folks don't want to feel like they're occupied. Making people feel like they're occupied is what leads to that powder keg effect, it's what leads people to believe that police killed him even when they didn't.

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