Minnesota is one of the most cosmopolitan states in the United States and this is certainly a case of this one not being like the others because Midwestern America is not the place you are most likely to see global cultural and ethnic variety. You stand a better chance in the east coast, particularly New York, and west coat or specifically California.
It is estimated that about 100,000 Minnesotans are African immigrants, most of them, of Somali ancestry. The next largest group of African immigrants are the 30,000 or so Liberians. Like the Somalis, the Liberians also started settling in Minnesota during the 1990s when America maintained a temporary protected status option for many African refugees. One of the Liberian refugees, Mike Elliott, became a mayor in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
Elliott came under national scrutiny after a young Black man, Daunte Wright, was gunned down by a city police officer. Elliott described the shooting as “heartbreaking and just unfathomable.” He has promised a full investigation and said his “position is that we cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life of other people in our profession”.
But one would guess that these are not the conditions within which Elliott would love to receive national attention. He is actually the first Black mayor of Brooklyn Center and when he came into power in 2018, that barely arrested the national focus. Now, he has to maintain both the pride people have with him in power as well as navigate the unforgivable slopes of political decision-making.
Elliot went to the United States from Liberia with his family at age 11. Liberians had been going to the States from about 1991. He went to the Brooklyn Center High School and after that, Hamline University. Elliott has since made life himself an entrepreneur, starting Fastforward Education, a mentoring program designed with students at Brooklyn Center schools in mind. The city’s public schools take in many students from low-income homes. One estimate says about eight out of ten students at Brooklyn Center High School, for instance, are eligible for assisted feeding at school.
Brooklyn Center’s mayoral position allows its occupant to be a part-time mayor. When he is not to be found at City Hall, Elliott is a full-stack software engineer who dedicates his time to personal and professional projects.
Each shooting of an unarmed Black man by a police officer brings with it its own burdens and implications for political power and for the people. Elliott realizes this and thus decried how Wright’s life was taken away while “[w]e are all collectively devastated…by the killing of George Floyd and…continue to be distressed as we go through the Derek Chauvin trial“.