A year after cities across the U.S. saw riots following the death of George Floyd, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said faith and community leaders can help avert a spike in violent crime this summer.
Ellison spoke to ABC’s “This Week” days after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin received a 22.5-year sentence for Floyd’s murder and agreed with President Biden that communities could be at risk in the coming months.
“We’ve seen massive numbers of people unemployed during the pandemic. People are out of work, people are worried about rent, this is injecting stress into the community and sometimes that manifests in violence,” Ellison said. “I think we do need those economic supports — the unemployment insurance and the eviction moratorium are coming to an end, these things are going to add stress, they might add to the violence toll, and we’ve got to be aware of these things.”
Ellison said religious and community leaders, in conjunction with law enforcement officials, could help “stave off what could be a difficult summer if we don’t get ahead of it.”
He said that at a recent Minneapolis community meeting there was a group of pastors who work with law enforcement as part of an initiative called 21 Days of Peace. Those pastors asked police where the neighborhood hot spots are, and people from the community went and occupied them, resulting in reductions in violence at several of those locations.
“A community-led effort to engage neighbors, to build relationships with neighbors in cooperation with law enforcement, might just be the key all over the country,” Ellison said.