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.
…Michelle Gross, a local activist who launched Communities United Against Police Brutality in 2000, said incidents with police caused a total of 40 civilian deaths during Klobuchar’s tenure. The Post counted more than 25 such cases in a review of news coverage from the time; the majority of those killed were people of color or mentally ill.
“She did not prosecute a single one of them,” Gross said. “Not one.”
…Her campaign noted that the prison incarceration rate for African Americans in the county declined during her tenure, though experts said that did little to ameliorate a dramatic disparity between black and white prison rates.
…During her campaign, Klobuchar vowed a zero-tolerance approach toward nonviolent crimes by young people, including petty theft and vandalism.
“The broken windows theory is correct,” she wrote in a 1998 candidate statement, embracing the policing theory popularized by then-New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and his police commissioner, William Bratton, in the mid-1990s. The idea was that cracking down on minor offenses can prevent more serious crimes.
…In the interview with The Post, Klobuchar acknowledged that her rhetoric about not letting juvenile crime “go unpunished” might have been perceived as harsh by some African Americans but said her actions were directed by what county residents wanted.
“I understand how those words mean something that is not good in the African American community. It makes it sound like you want to put their kids behind bars, and that is not what I did when I was county attorney,” she said. [Um, clearly she did NOT understand. Or, at best, she simply did not think it was important enough to weigh into her decisions.]
…Reflecting on Klobuchar’s tough-on-crime record, some experts said she would have had limited awareness of the impact of her policies on African Americans. [Or she simply chose to ignore it. Emphasis: peanut gallery]
…Jeff Hayden, a Democratic state senator in Minnesota who is African American and a friend of Klobuchar’s, said he “wouldn’t disagree” with critics that race relations “hasn’t been something that’s been her focus in Minnesota.”
Not wanting to rock the boat is a bad look sometimes.
Taking conventional wisdom as gospel and not thinking through for yourself is not the mark of a leader.