Calling for a police ‘reckoning’, Brooklyn Center mayor says: ‘It’s not safe to drive in Minnesota while black’

Buoyed by a highly irresponsible statement from Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, a white liberal Democrat who declared that her state is “a place where it is not safe to be black,” the mayor of Brooklyn Center echoed that same sentiment on national television.

Mayor Mike Elliott, an African American, appeared on CNN to call for a “reckoning” on policing as he proclaimed, “It’s not safe to drive in Minnesota while you’re black.”

In delivering a message to nearly 400,000 black residents that its dangerous to live in the state because of the color of their skin, Elliott declared deceased criminal suspect Daunte Wright “an incredibly important member of our community.”

CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer cited Flanagan’s remarks to ask Elliott if she’s right.

“She’s absolutely right,” he replied, before issuing an equally remarkable statement. “This is something that people in my community have been grappling with for a very long time. It’s not safe to drive in Minnesota while you’re black. I mean, the fact of the matter is there’s so many of us who drive and if we see police behind us, we’re afraid, you know, we’re trembling. That is a kind of terror that no citizen of the United States should ever have to face. It’s constant, it’s ever present.”

(Video: CNN)

The natural follow up question should have been to ask the mayor what actions he has been involved in since being elected to office in 2018 to address what he just described, but Blitzer was not up to the task.

Instead, he asked Elliott if he had personal experience on what he described.

The mayor recalled an incident that occurred when he was in high school, saying he was singled out along with another black kid by police while offering little context.

He also said he had been “randomly” stopped in Minneapolis “because officers said I took the cart out of the store and took it back in the store and got back in my car and he was somehow concerned that maybe that meant I was dealing drugs.” And that he has had “officers almost throw me off my bike… because someone called and said they saw their neighbor’s back door open and saw me riding down the sidewalk.”

“So this happens all the time,” Elliott said. “Here in Minnesota, and I believe it happens all over the country. This is real. It’s time for a reckoning. It’s time for us as a country to come together and once and for all resolve this problem.”

Blitzer reinforced Elliott’s assertions, telling him he’s “absolutely right” about black men being targeted by police.

Turning to the funeral for Daunte Wright, which is set for this Thursday, Elliott made another remarkable statement after saying he will attend the services.

“I’m sad. I know I’m going to break down. I already broke down this week,” he said. “You know, it’s going to be very difficult to be there, but I want to be there. I want to be there to help see Daunte off. He is an incredibly important member of our community. He’s going to be missed dearly. You know, it’s a real sad, sad day, Thursday is going to be, but I will be there.”

It bears repeating: “He is an incredibly important member of our community. He’s going to be missed dearly.”

Wright died last week while resisting arrest for an open warrant. He had broken free while several officers tried to handcuff him and jumped back into his vehicle. One of the officers reportedly grabbed her service weapon mistakenly instead of her Taser and accidentally shot him. She is heard on body-cam footage yelling, “Taser, Taser,” which is part of the training to let other officers know a Taser shot is imminent.

The deceased 20-year-old was stopped for an expired tag, according to police, and he had an outstanding warrant related to misdemeanor charges of illegally possessing a firearm and fleeing from a police officer. There was a second warrant for first-degree aggravated robbery, after Wright allegedly choked and robbed a woman at gunpoint last summer — he was due in court on the robbery charges this August, according to reviewed records.

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Tom Tillison

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