Out Now: First Muslim in U.S. Congress Talks George Floyd Murder in New Book "Break the Wheel"
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s new book “Break the Wheel: Ending the Cycle of Police Violence” released May 23. The book is a diary of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who was convicted of murdering George Floyd. Floyd’s 2020 murder prompted worldwide outrage, and the trial of Derek Chauvin was the center of controversy. “Break the Wheel” is the story of how Ellison navigated the different aspects of the trial and the people impacted.
Ellison was the first Muslim elected to Congress in 2006, and was also the first African American representative elected from Minnesota. He served six terms in Congress before winning election as attorney general of Minnesota in 2018, after a brief tenure as deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee.
The conviction of officers when charged with deaths of civilians is historically rare, even when there is overwhelming evidence. Ellison began his career as a lawyer in civil rights law, and his role as prosecutor in the Floyd case marked a return to these roots. In an interview with the New York Times, he said that he wrote the book whenever he had a spare moment while the trial was ongoing, hoping to create a historical record and a guide for what to do in cases like Floyd’s.
Each chapter of “Break the Wheel” examines a different aspect of the trial process, including navigating press attention, activist outrage and the emotions and truth of the people at the center of the trial. The book begins with a foreword by Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother. Ellison details the difficulty of finding a jury that represented a diversity of race and life experience, especially in a trial that was so emotionally charged. He also calls for an overhaul of the policing system and the toxic culture that pervades police departments across the country and seeks to provide an example of what justice might look like in a case like Floyd’s.
Description from HarperCollins:
“The murder of George Floyd sparked global outrage. At the center of the conflict and the controversy, Keith Ellison grappled with the means of bringing justice for Floyd and his family. Now, in this riveting account of the Derek Chauvin trial, Ellison takes the reader down the path his prosecutors took, offering different breakthroughs and revelations for a defining, generational moment of racial reckoning and social justice understanding. Each chapter of BREAK THE WHEEL goes spoke to spoke along the wheel of the system as Ellison examines the roles of prosecutors, defendants, heads of police unions, judges, activists, legislators, politicians, and media figures, each in his attempt to end this chain of violence and replace it with empathy and shared insight. Ellison’s analysis of George Floyd’s life and the rich trial context he provides demonstrates that, while it may seem like an unattainable goal, lasting change and justice can be achieved.”