At Issue: April 25 — Push for police accountability grows; remembering MN political icon Walter Mondale

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The actions of former Minneapolis police officer and convicted murderer Derek Chauvin are leading to a growing call for more changes to policing — not just in Minnesota, but throughout the country.

This week on “At Issue,” we look at those calls for accountability and policy changes. From the White House in Washington, D.C., all the way down to the Minnesota Police Officer Standards and Training Board, the jury’s decision to convict a police officer in the death of George Floyd, a Black man, has sent reverberations throughout the halls of power.

“I would not call today’s verdict ‘justice,’ however, because justice implies true restoration,” Attorney General Keith Ellison said on Tuesday. “But it is accountability, which is the first step toward justice. Now the cause of justice is in your hands.”

But it’s one thing for lawmakers and government officials to say they’re pursuing change and something different to enact policies. Political analysts say although the winds of momentum are blowing, it requires a willingness to work across party lines — both in Washington and St. Paul — to act quickly.

“We’ve known about this problem for a very long time,” former DFL state Sen. Ember Reichgott Junge said on the show. “This window of opportunity is now. The culture has changed; people are listening and we need to act now — urgently.”

“Leave the people on the farm extremes out of the room. No Matt Gaetz, no Maxine Waters; they’re not going to be part of the solution,” former Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers, a Republican, said. “If you have called for more press conferences than you have friends on the other side of the aisle, you’re not going to be part of the solution. You’re part of the problem.”

We also take a look at the life of former Vice President Walter Mondale, who passed away this week at age 93.

Mondale, a former U.S. senator, Minnesota attorney general and ambassador to Japan, unsuccessfully ran for President in 1984 and was the first major-party candidate to choose a woman as his running mate. The only state who voted for Mondale during President Ronald Reagan’s re-election bid was his home state, Minnesota.

Our analysts remember Mondale for his kindness and his willingness to step outside the political norms.