Klobuchar Faces Questions of Racial Bias, Harsh Punishment as Prosecutor | NTK Network Klobuchar Faces Questions of Racial Bias, Harsh Punishment as Prosecutor

Klobuchar Faces Questions of Racial Bias, Harsh Punishment as Prosecutor

Critics are raising questions about racial bias and harsh punishments under Klobuchar’s watch as county prosecutor.

By NTK Staff | 03.25.2019 @11:30am
Klobuchar Faces Questions of Racial Bias, Harsh Punishment as Prosecutor

Prior to becoming a U.S. Senator from Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar served as Hennepin County’s chief prosecutor from 1999 to 2007. Not unlike her Senate colleague, Kamala Harris, Klobuchar’s prosecutorial career is now coming under the microscope as she seeks the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

The findings could prove damaging to Klobuchar’s prospects. The Black Lives Matter movement proved to be a strong political force in the 2016 election, frequently tripping up Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at rallies and speeches.

A 2002 incident in which police killed a 44-year-old black man at his home drew wide attention in the state at the time. The man, Christopher Burns, was unarmed and in the presence of three young children when police responded to a domestic violence call. “The officers put him in a chokehold, and he died on the scene, according to the medical examiner,” per the Washington Post.

Klobuchar “declined to bring charges against the officers, and a grand jury she convened did not indict them.”

According to the Post, this was not uncommon during Klobuchar’s tenure:

As chief prosecutor for Minnesota’s most populous county from 1999 to 2007, Klobuchar declined to bring charges in more than two dozen cases in which people were killed in encounters with police.

At the same time, she aggressively prosecuted smaller offenses such as vandalism and routinely sought longer-than-recommended sentences, including for minors. Such prosecutions, done with the aim of curbing more serious crimes, have had mixed results and have been criticized for their disproportionate effect on poor and minority communities.

Without knowing the full details of each of these cases, it’s difficult to know if Klobuchar acted appropriately in each. But activists will be sure to put pressure on Klobuchar to answer for her actions, particularly if she gains traction in the 2020 Democratic primary.

Indeed, one critic penned a full New York Times op-ed focused on Harris’s prosecutorial missteps shortly after she released her latest book, in which she described herself as a “progressive prosecutor.”

Klobuchar’s background as a prosecutor is featured less prominently in her pitch to voters, but that won’t stop critics and the media from digging in for more details in the months ahead.

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