Apr 14, 2021 - News

Brooklyn Center mayor in the spotlight after Daunte Wright shooting

Mike Elliott

Mike Elliott has moved swiftly after the death of Daunte Wright. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)

The killing of Daunte Wright by a Brooklyn Center, Minn., police officer has thrust Mayor Mike Elliott into the national spotlight.

The big picture: Elliott, with the backing of the city council, has acted quickly and boldly in the wake of the shooting. He fired longtime city manager Curt Boganey, took control of the police department and called for the firing of officer Kim Potter, who resigned on Tuesday.

Context: What's happening in Brooklyn Center is a tough situation for anyone, let alone a 37-year-old who had no prior City Council experience and has only been mayor of the city of 31,000 for two years.

  • Rep. Samantha Vang (DFL-Brooklyn Center) noted that a city Brooklyn Center's size doesn't have the resources like Minneapolis or St. Paul to handle protests and unrest, which she described as the biggest public safety issue in America.
  • "It's not easy and I can only imagine the position he is in," she said.

Elliott immigrated to the US from Liberia at age 11, graduated from Hamline University and is reflective of the west metro suburb he leads. Brooklyn Center is young, diverse and has a large Liberian population.

The other side: While some have praised Elliott's swift actions, the move to fire Boganey, who is Black, was concerning to state Sen. Chris Eaton (DFL), who has represented Brooklyn Center at the Capitol for 10 years.

  • "I'm absolutely flabbergasted that he fired our city manager who has been here for quite some time and is a personal friend and does an excellent job," Eaton told Axios.
  • Eaton was also concerned about Elliott's lack of experience to oversee the police department.

Eaton, whose husband Tim Willson lost to Elliott in the mayoral race, appreciated Elliott's efforts to calm the protestors on Monday and said, "I think he's doing the best he can. I just am not sure he's qualified."

What's ahead: Elliott held a press conference on Tuesday, shortly after police chief Tim Gannon resigned.

  • Elliott called on Gov. Tim Walz to move the Potter case to Attorney General Keith Ellison's office for prosecution.
  • Washington County District Attorney Pete Orput expects to make a charging decision today.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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