The Potluck

Al Giraud-Issaacson resigns his seat on the Minneapolis Charter Commission

By: - August 17, 2020 4:00 pm

Al Giraud-Issaacson. Screenshot taken during recent Minneapolis Charter Commission meeting.

Al Giraud-Issaacson has resigned his seat on the Minneapolis Charter Commission, which in recent weeks has become the source of controversy over whether the City Council could go through with a plan to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department.

Giraud-Issaacson announced his resignation on Twitter, saying, “In my letter to the Chief Judge of Hennepin County, I asked he replace me with a (Black, Indigenous and people of color) member of the community.” The chief judge appoints members of the Charter Commission. 

Giraud-Issaacson has described himself as “a person of color and as a member of the LGBTQ community.” He was one of just three people of color on the 15-member commission.

In his resignation letter to the recently installed chief judge, Giraud-Issaacson wrote, “I respectfully request that you review the process of appointments to ensure that representation on the commission reflects what the City of Minneapolis looks like. A person of color should replace my seat as I am one of only three who identify as such. The commissions will soon embark on city ward redistricting and having more people of color at the table will be critical. All voices need to be represented.”

On Aug. 5, Giraud-Issaacson voted against the majority of the commission, which agreed to take another 90 days to study the Minneapolis City Council’s proposed charter amendment to dismantle the Police Department and replace it with something new. The delay will keep it off the November ballot. Despite his vote, Giraud-Issaacson said he’s not in favor of the City Council plan, at least not yet. 

He said more legal analysis and input from Black and brown leaders was needed before moving forward.

The council proposed letting voters decide whether to strip the Police Department from the city charter, which is akin to a constitution, in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. Some council members have vowed to put it on the ballot next year.

Giraud-Isaacson was targeted on social media by a Minneapolis artist named Commarrah Jewelia Bashar, who became enraged at him for confusing City Council member Phillipe Cunningham with Jeremiah Ellison — both are Black — when Ellison testified before the commission on July 9. Bashar urged people to call the chief judge and ask why she appointed an “unprofessional, passive aggressive and openly anti-black transphobic commissioner.”

At that point, Giraud-Isaacson’s husband jumped in and defended his spouse, saying he’s been bullied his whole life, first for his race, and then for being gay. 

Cunningham initially castigated Giraud-Isaacson for not being able to distinguish “between two black men” but backed down after Giraud-Isaacson apologized, saying “I will do better,” but Bashar said they alerted city “communications” that Giraud-Isaacson was “anti-black and transphobic because you can’t tell the difference between two black City Council members.”

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs. Before joining the staff of the Reformer in 2021 she was a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. She and her husband have a daughter, son, and very grand child. In her spare time, she likes to play tennis, jog, garden and attempt to check out all the best restaurants in the metro area.