One of the key reasons why the majority of Americans openly state that they want to see serious reforms to the systems and structures of mass incarceration, but don’t actually fight for those changes, is because the tens of millions of currently and formerly incarcerated Americans remain nameless and faceless to most people. And stats don’t push people to fight for change. Stories do.
That’s why I need each of you to know the name and story of Myon Burrell, a 16 year old boy in Minneapolis who was sentenced to life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He wasn’t even there. He had an alibi. No murder weapon, fingerprints, or DNA evidence were ever found to implicate Myon Burrell. The only eyewitness was 120 feet away, behind a wall, and could hardly make anything out, but Myon was still arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison anyway. It’s patently absurd.
That was 17 years ago and Myon Burrell has now spent more time in prison than he ever had a chance to live out of it. And if Amy Klobuchar was not running for president right now, I’m not sure we’d even know a thing about this case - not because she is some tenacious advocate for Myon (she isn’t), but because she was the lead prosecutor who charged Myon with murder and bragged for a generation that her office convicted him. She literally ran campaign ads for her United States Senate race on it.
But now, thanks in large part to one of the finest pieces of investigative journalism I have ever seen, the world is learning Myon’s name and story. If you do anything today, stop reading my words, and go read the words of the brilliant journalist, Robin McDowell in her AP piece on Myon’s case that was released earlier this month. I truly think it could win the Pulitzer Prize. It’s that thorough and that important. It was the product of a nearly year long investigation into the case and it unearthed loads of new evidence that police and prosecutors willfully ignored and suppressed.
Then watch this AP video that serves as a compliment to the article. I first read the article 3 weeks ago, but just saw the video this past weekend and it brought the entire case to life for me.
I spoke with Myon’s family this past week and have agreed to come on board to fight to free Myon. I’m going to be making several announcements over the next few days and will need your help. I hope to explain how his case is indicative of so many deep systemic problems. We know Myon’s name and story now, but the truth is that hundreds of thousands other men, women, boys, and girls are suffering his same fate, but didn’t happen to be prosecuted by a presidential candidate.
What’s clear to me is that Amy Klobuchar, when pressed even a little on this case, just can’t defend it. Sunny Hostin, a career prosecutor, and now a Co-host on The View, boxed Klobuchar in this past week and I need you to see this too.
Stay tuned for some action steps, but for now, read Robin’s AP story and watch the videos.