Minneapolis rally calls for exoneration of Myon Burrell

Michael Toussaint (left), father of Myon Burrell
Michael Toussaint (left), father of Myon Burrell, speaks at a rally Sunday at the George Floyd memorial site in Minneapolis. Toussaint and the rest of the crowd were calling for the exoneration of Burrell in a 2002 murder case.
Jon Collins | MPR News

More than 150 supporters and family members of Myon Burrell gathered in below-freezing temperatures at the site of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis on Sunday to call for Burrell’s exoneration. 

Burrell was 17 when he was first convicted in the 2002 shooting death of sixth-grader Tyesha Edwards in Minneapolis, but an Associated Press and APM Reports investigation published earlier this year found significant problems with how Burrell’s case was prosecuted. 

Burrell's now 19-year-old son, who is also named Myon Burrell, said he hasn't seen his father outside of prison since he was a year old. He said he was stunned that so many people would turn out to support his father.

"Other kids’ dreams are usually like, they want to be a movie star, they want to be an actor or doctor,” he said. “But my dreams were always, I wanted to grow up with my dad — I never had my dad."

The Associated Press and APM Reports investigation put a spotlight on then-Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who originally prosecuted Burrell. She has said the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office should conduct an independent review of the case. Current Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman first expressed confidence that the right man had been imprisoned, but later said the U.S. Department of Justice should re-examine the case. 

Myon Burrell sits inside his cell.
In this Feb. 13, 2020, photo, inmate Myon Burrell sits inside his cell at Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater, Minn.
John Minchillo | AP file

George Floyd’s killing created a climate where real change can happen, said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. But he said elected officials need to be held accountable. 

“We have to put some pressure on Amy Klobuchar right now, we’ve got to put pressure on her, make sure that she hears ‘Myon’ every single day,” Hussein said. “Let her know, Myon has people — Myon has people — and we are not going anywhere until this man is free with his family, and she is responsible.” 

As a mural of George Floyd loomed behind him, Burrell's father Michael Toussaint told the crowd at Sunday’s rally that he's frustrated by delays in re-examining his son's case.  

“The systems are the same people that make the laws, but break them,” Toussaint said. “If you really went by law, my son wouldn't be in jail now, he'd have been free."

Burrell is being held at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater, which his supporters say puts his health at risk due to an extensive outbreak of COVID-19 there. State data shows that almost half of all inmates at Stillwater have tested positive for COVID-19. 

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