New Journal and Guide
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison was among powerful presenters speaking to publishers/CEOs of Black-owned newspapers and media companies at the recent summer convention of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) in Nashville.
The NNPA representing more than 200 Black print and digital news services around the country met June 28-July 1 with Publisher Rosetta Perry, owner of the Tennessee Tribune, as the convention host.
Ellison, a former U.S. Congressman, is best noted for successfully leading the state’s prosecution case against former Minneapolis police officer Derrick Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd in April 2020. The murder created an international wave of protests against police brutality.
Ellison began his speech with the 1946 chilling historical account of Issac Woodward, a 26-year-old Black army sergeant just returning home after serving in WWII, who was viciously beaten and had his eyes gauged out by a white police chief acquitted by an all-white jury.
“We must break the wheel on this police violence,” Ellison said, calling police violence against civilians “fundamental human rights abuse”.
“Break the Wheel” is the title of Ellison’s newly released book, with the subtitle, “Ending the Cycle of Police Violence”.
When he first saw the cell phone video taken at the crime scene by a teenage witness, Ellison said, “I could not believe it…and yet I could…and yet I couldn’t.” The video later would become a damning piece of evidence against Chauvin for Ellison and the prosecution team.
He recalled repeatedly watching the video the morning after the crime and counting the minutes Derrick Chauvin had Floyd pinned to the ground under his knee before releasing his lifeless body.
The first police report said the encounter was 8:46 minutes, This later was changed to 9:29 minutes.
Ellison said there are “some great cops” who are upholding their badges and earning the community’s trust, a critical value to ensure that police can work effectively.
“When there is loss of trust, 911 calls are down…people don’t talk and report crimes,” he said.
Chauvin was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison. Three other officers at the scene of the crime were each sentenced to several years in prison.
The county medical examiner ruled Floyd’s death a homicide caused by a combination of the officers’ use of force, the presence of drugs in Floyd’s system and his underlying health conditions. Ellison said he brought in his own medical examiner to reinforce his case that the fatality stemmed from Chauvin’s use of excessive force as opposed to Floyd’s health which carried a lighter sentence.
“Keep your eye on the Medical Examiner,” he warned,
Workshops were held on transitioning from print to digital news, cybersecurity awareness for businesses, trends in Black homeownership, hazards of banning menthol cigarettes, and the urgency of engaging the next generation through culture and education.
The NNPA Fund handed out its Messenger Awards, honoring the best entries submitted by Black member newspapers. The Sacramento Observer won 16 awards, including Publisher of the Year for Larry Lee.
Bobby Henry, the publisher of the Westside Gazette in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., won election as NNPA Chairman.
The organization also honored Attorney General Ellison along with Tennessee State Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson during its Legacy Awards and Gala Dinner
Grammy winner Keith Washington closed the gala with a mini-concert.