BY TONY BOUZA
[Editor’s note: I disagree with the argument and the conclusion of Tony Bouza’s analysis. My rebuttal follows.]
The first thing that must be said is that racism is America’s #1 problem. Period.
The murder of Tyesha Edwards, 11, in 2002, is an unspeakable, unbearable tragedy.
Myron Burrell, now 33, was convicted of murder twice—once by County Attorney Amy Klobuchar and then by her successor.
Klobuchar was the best prosecutor of the 40 years I’ve been observing them—tough, hard-working, fair and no racist.
Mr. Burrell stubbornly insists he is innocent. An innocent he ain’t—gang member and utterly silent on his life or any role he may have played in the tragedy. Emmet Till this ain’t.
I don’t see any new evidence beyond protestations of innocence—not exactly a novel approach.
Black leaders have called on Klobuchar to suspend her campaign.
This is the kind of trophy hunting by which the Al Sharptons catapult themselves into prominence. Unworthy.
A juror expressed regret over participating in the conviction, but not on the basis of new evidence.
Burrell was convicted after a fair trial. He appealed. The verdict was overturned, but not on the basis of innocence—process was the issue. He was retried by a different prosecutor and again convicted. No evidence of innocence was offered.
This ain’t the Innocence Project.
Let’s get real here.
Burrell was not found guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. He was convicted beyond a reasonable doubt—twice. Might he actually be innocent? Yes. We are not infallible.
It strikes me as an act of supreme hubris to superimpose your ambitions on the judgment of honest citizens listening to the evidence pro and con.
The Central Park Jogger Five were framed. They were innocent of the crime, whatever our idiot president may write.
Tyesha Edwards would be 29 today. Let’s focus on her for a moment. Is she entitled to justice? Has Burrell been framed?
Norman Mailer once persuaded the system to release a convicted murderer without much beyond his arrogant belief—which he did not hesitate to parse with his considerable clout.
Shortly after being sprung, the guy stabbed an innocent to death. Humility was not Mailer’s strong suit.
I’m very sorry to say that I think, on the basis of my experience and observation, that black leadership in America is mostly not really worthy of the great people they presume to lead.
* * * * * * *
First, I agree with Tony’s basic premise: “Racism is America’s #1 problem. Period.”
Second, it must be acknowledged that Tony Bouza is America’s leading authority on the lies and cover-ups by police in their use of excessive force. His book, “Expert Witness,” details 59 cases where he testified to police misconduct.
I remember more than 40 years ago reading Tony Bouza’s succinct summary analysis: “Minneapolis doesn’t have a gang problem. It has a youth problem.”
How can that same Tony Bouza sit in judgment of Myron Burrell: “An innocent he ain’t—gang member and utterly silent on his life or any role he may have played in the tragedy.” Gone is his appreciation of gangs as a symptom of greater social problems, and also gone is his regard for the constitutional guarantees against self-incrimination.
On Tuesday, Jan. 28, the AP reported: “With no gun, no DNA, no fingerprints, the case against Burrell revolved around a teen rival who gave conflicting accounts of the shooting. Later, police turned to jailhouse informants, some of whom say they were coached and have since recanted. Alibis were not questioned. Key evidence has gone missing or was never obtained, including a convenience store surveillance tape that Burrell and others say would have cleared him. And the chief homicide detective was caught on camera offering cash for information—even if it was just hearsay.”
On Wednesday, Leslie Redmond, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, speaking at a press conference that was supported by The Racial Justice Network, Black Lives Matter Twin Cities, Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar and Communities United Against Police Brutality, said: “What I need people to understand is this isn’t about partisanship and this isn’t about politics. This is about justice. This isn’t just a situation that happened to the Central Park Five alone. This is a situation that happens all around America. This is a situation that happens right here in Minnesota. Young people, young adults were given life sentences to rot away in prison. This benefits no one. However, it does benefit politicians who use the criminal justice system to benefit their political careers. Enough is enough.”
The group called for Klobuchar to end her campaign for president.
Tony Bouza says she’s tough but not a racist.
During Klobuchar’s tenure as county attorney, Walter Collins, a suspect in a drug deal, was chased and shot dead by officers in North Minneapolis. The shooting so outraged North Minneapolis that the U.S. Department of Justice was forced to intervene and mediate differences between community activists and the police. The officers involved were not prosecuted or disciplined.
The next year, Courtney Williams, 15, from North Minneapolis, was shot and killed by an officer. The officer said he was holding a pellet gun. His friends at the scene said he did not have a pellet gun. The officer was not prosecuted or disciplined.
According to MPR News: “Over eight years beginning in 1999, the city of Minneapolis paid $4.8 million in legal settlements related to 122 police misconduct incidents. And police officers and county sheriffs were involved in 29 civilian deaths. Klobuchar, however, chose not to criminally charge any fatalities involving law enforcement. Instead she routinely put the decision to a grand jury, a process widely criticized for its secrecy and for mostly allowing the police version of events. Klobuchar also didn’t take on any of the misconduct claims.
“The mother of a black teenager who was shot and killed by police in 2004 begged Klobuchar to file charges against the officer instead of presenting the case to a grand jury. ‘The grand jury is a way of hiding that the prosecutor is not giving the full information of guilt to the grand jury,’ Tahisha Williams Brewer wrote to Klobuchar at the time. ‘I want this process out in the open, where everyone can observe it and make sure that it is fair to my son.’”
“It gives me pause in thinking about her potentially becoming the next president of the United States,” said Nekima Levy Armstrong, a lawyer and former president of the Minneapolis NAACP. As for the past, Levy Armstrong says, “It’s important for someone like Amy Klobuchar to acknowledge the mistakes that she made and the harm that she caused and to make amends.”