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Major victory in MN: ‘Myon is free!’

By Jess Sundin |
December 16, 2020
Myon Burrell moments after his release from Stillwater prison.
Myon Burrell moments after his release from Stillwater prison. (KingDemetrius Pendleton)

Bayport, MN - After 18 long years, Myon Burrell walked out the doors of Stillwater prison, to a cheering crowd of family and 100-plus community supporters. First embraced by his sister Ianna Burrell from the front, and his son Myon Burrell, Jr. from the back, he slowly made his way to the outside stairs to chants of, “Welcome home!” and “Myon’s free!”

Burrell made his way through the crowd, and then said, “I thank everybody who came out and supported me. I can’t even explain my gratitude. All my supporters, I love y’all. Y’all take care. And y’all keep on pushing, man, we fighting for justice. There’s too much injustice going on.” Then he threw his fist into the air and got into a car to leave the prison behind, leaving the crowd chanting, “Myon’s free!”

Burrell’s son said this was the best day of his life, “It ain’t ‘Free Myon’ no more. Myon’s free!”

These emotional events came after a decision earlier that day, when the Minnesota Pardon Board considered Burrell’s case. He had asked for a pardon and commutation. A pardon was denied, but a commutation was approved on the grounds that Burrell was just 16 years old when went on trial for the murder of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards, who was killed by a bullet that came through the wall of her home while she was at a table doing homework. A national panel of legal experts had reviewed the case and issued a 59-page report that concluded that Burrell should be freed, both because of the dubious grounds for his conviction and because his sentence was extreme for a juvenile, compared to today’s standards.

Burrell’s case has been in the spotlight since former prosecutor and Minnesota’s U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar campaigned for president last year. She cited the case as an example of her work on behalf of the Black community. Her last public event before she dropped out of the campaign was shut down and taken over by hundreds rallying to “Free Myon.” Many of the organizers of that protest were on hand to welcome Myon Burrell home. Several spoke to the media, including Elizer Darris, ACLU; Nekima Levy Armstrong, Racial Justice Network; Jaylani Hussein, CAIR-Minnesota; Rosemary Nevils Williams; Jess Sundin, Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar (TCC4J); and Toshira Garraway Allen, Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence.

Addressing the media after Burrell had departed, the activists called for continuing the fight for justice for Myon Burrell, including exoneration. He was released from prison, but he will remain under supervised release for two more years, and going forward, a convicted felon. They denounced the police and prosecutorial misconduct that led to Burrell’s wrongful conviction and that of many others, and which also shields police from accountability for murders of community members.

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