As the campaign to recall Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman gets underway, a number of questions are surfacing. These include: How many signatures do you need to get on the recall ballot? What kind of criticism is being leveled against Freeman? And, finally, what is Freeman’s record?
Campaign to recall Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman begins
Minnesota voters will decide the future of their county attorney with the August 9 primary election. The top two candidates will advance to the general election in November. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office handles the largest number of criminal cases in the state. In 2017, it handled more than 13,000 adult and juvenile cases. The office has a budget of more than $65 million and 500 full-time employees.
A petition drive began June 16 and in just a week, nearly 10,000 people signed the petition. A week later, a media contact collected another 2,300 signatures. The recall petition requires 126,522 signatures from registered voters in Hennepin County. Freeman’s office has not yet commented on the petition.
Freeman has been under fire for a number of years. The recall began as a reaction to his handling of the Floyd case. Freeman had been under fire for a number of reasons, including his handling of police misconduct. He has responded to criticism by saying he has little room to prosecute police officers.
Number of signatures needed
A group of Minneapolis citizens is gathering signatures for a recall petition against Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. The group is known as Recall Freeman, and has already collected over 16,000 of the 126,522 required to trigger a recall election. The signature collection is currently underway at the First Universalist Church in South Minneapolis.
The campaign’s organizers include Kathleen Cole and Lena Gardner, both of whom are active local activists. Gardner is part of the Black Lives Matter Minneapolis group, and Cole is a co-founder of Showing Up For Racial Justice-Twin Cities. Both are aware of Freeman’s reputation for defending cops who kill Black people.
In the aftermath of Floyd’s murder, activists are attempting to recall Freeman from office. The goal is to send a strong message to law enforcement that police brutality is not acceptable, and that prosecutors must prosecute crimes against all citizens.
Criticism of Freeman’s record
Freeman is facing criticism over his record and the way he’s handled cases. He’s been under fire for not prosecuting officers in fatal use-of-force cases, including those involving members of the Black community, like Jamar Clark. Freeman has defended his record by assigning additional lawyers to carjacking cases, intensifying prosecution of juvenile suspects, and filing charges in 80 percent of the Minneapolis carjacking cases last year. The attorney also argues against the simplistic notion that a get-tough approach will keep crime down.
Freeman’s record is marked by an emphasis on crime prevention and justice reform. His office has implemented a be@school program and tough gun laws, and has also instituted diversion programs for low-level offenders. Additionally, he’s worked to increase victim services by establishing a Domestic Abuse Service Center and ending the prosecution of small amounts of marijuana. He’s also worked to reduce the number of youth in foster care.