Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is under fire for claiming he doesn’t know anyone who supports defunding the police despite appearing at a campaign event for Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., just days before.
“I don’t know anybody who thinks we should defund the police,” Ellison said during a debate on Sunday.
But critics were quick to point out that Ellison knew at least two people who supported the Defund the Police movement, with the Republican National Committee pointing out that the incumbent attorney general had attended a rally in support of Omar and Rep. Cori Bush, D–Mo., both of whom have expressed support for calls to limit police funding.
“Here is Keith Ellison TWO DAYS AGO with Cori Bush and Ilhan Omar — two of the leading voices in the ‘Defund the Police’ movement,” RNC Research posted on Twitter Sunday.
Last year, Omar came out in support of a Minneapolis ballot measure that was aimed at replacing the city’s police department with a new department of public safety.
“The truth is the current system hasn’t been serving our city for a long time,” she wrote in an op-ed for the Star Tribune at the time. “I have long said we need a public safety system that is actually rooted in people’s basic human needs.”
Ellison himself supported the same ballot measure, arguing the city’s police department was part of an “outdated model for law enforcement and safety.”
“Fundamentally, communities across [Minneapolis] need & want the possibility for reform & accountability, which the current Charter blocks by locking us into an outdated model for law enforcement and safety. They want to end the cycle of inaction,” he wrote on Twitter.
“This year the residents of [Minneapolis] have asked for and can take that first step of action on the ballot. As a resident of [Minneapolis] where George Floyd’s murder sparked a national call for real reform, I will vote Yes for greater public safety & more human rights for all. #Yes4Minneapolis.”
Bush has also been supportive of the Defund the Police movement, even defending the policy from critics within the Democratic Party who said it was hurting their chances at winning elections.
“There is no data that actually shows that saying ‘defund the police’ cost actual elections,” she told CNN last month. “We have Republicans saying defund the FBI. You know, where are we — where is our narrative? Let me tell you this. Democrats — there were not Democrats scaling walls on January the 6th when I was at the Capitol… Democrats didn’t kill police officers.”