Staff Editorial: Protest brings important issue to national stage


Maggie Klaers

A protestor leads a chant through a megaphone during Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s rally at St. Louis Park High School March 1. Klobuchar announced she would be suspending her campaign March 2.

At the beginning of Sen. Amy Klobuchar rally March 1, a group of protesters took to the stage with the goal of spreading awareness of Klobuchar’s involvement in the imprisonment of Myon Burrell.
Although all citizens have an inalienable right to the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition, the line between being disruptive and dangerous is an important line to be drawn with protests. The protest at the March 1 rally was on the correct side of that line.
According to The Associated Press, Burrell was charged with shooting and killing 11 year old Tyesha Edwards in 2002. Hennepin County has decided his guilt on multiple separate occasions: his initial trial involving Klobuchar, his retrial in 2007 without her involvement and an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2011. Still, the county defends the ruling while Black Lives Matter activists insist on his innocence.
While we will leave the determination of his guilt or innocence to the judge and jury, we commend the protestors on their success in bringing greater awareness to the issue. Through their persistence, they were able to get the campaign to cancel the event, drawing more national attention to the protest than if Klobuchar had taken the stage.
As a byproduct of the rally, Klobuchar supporters lost the opportunity to hear her speak. The Echo Editorial Board acknowledges this protest may have taken away a chance for voters to further educate themselves before casting their votes in the primaries. However, the couple hours rally attendees lost waiting for their candidate to take the stage doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
Since Klobuchar was, at the time of the protest, running for the highest office in the nation, she must be held to a higher standard. This case occurred 17 years ago, a different era of criminal justice marked by efforts to be “tough on crime” and pushing for harsher punishments when available. It is important to put events in context of the time in which they occurred, but when electing someone to a high office, they need to be held to the standards of today. This is especially important, as the ramifications of Klobuchar’s actions are still impacting people today — Burrell is still in prison.
However, often times not all candidates are held to the same bar. Former Vice President and Democratic nomination hopeful Joe Biden has a controversial track record similar to that of Klobuchar; his involvement in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 has come under heat for endorsing greater levels of imprisonments, disproportionately affecting racial groups.
This policy seems to be covered less than Klobuchar’s track record as a prosecutor. It is important to look through biases in the media and to dig into the pasts of all candidates, not just the ones who receive the most heat.
Not all actions, such as those of Klobuchar and Biden, are comparable. We do not attempt to determine how strictly voters should hold candidates to their record, but we encourage all voters to decide where they draw the line. In order to be educated, responsible voters, it is important to not only consider policies of the present, but the actions of the past as well.