Mpls NAACP and Black Lives Matter unite over Northside shooting
(All photos in gallery by Chris Juhn)
On November 16, at around 5 pm, organizers of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis rallied at the Fourth Precinct to protest the police killing of Jamar Clark. From the rally protesters marched until they reached 94 West and blocked traffic, where some were pulled from the protest line and arrested. There was a total of 51 arrests, including two journalists. Everyone was booked and released within hours after the demonstration.
See an update to the story: Protesters demand action over police shooting, not more talk
The Minneapolis NAACP is working with Black Lives Matter, along with community residents, in demanding answers to the Jamar Clark shooting on Sunday, November 15. Clark reportedly was shot outside early Sunday morning at James and Plymouth Avenue North. He later died from his injuries.
“We have demands that we want to move forward before we have any conversations or sit-downs” with police and elected officials, said NAACP Spokesperson Raeisha Williams Sunday to the MSR outside the city’s Fourth Precinct station on Plymouth Avenue in North Minneapolis.
The demands include publicly releasing the name of the officer or officers involved in the shooting; immediately dismissing them from the force; and making public a video of the incident — Clark was outside the Elk Club on Plymouth when the shooting occurred.
“We don’t want a conversation,” said Williams. “We want [the officer involved in the shooting] fired and we want him prosecuted.”
Minneapolis Deputy Chief Medaria Arradondo told the MSR that the Clark investigation is still underway and he couldn’t publicly talk about it. Williams, however, told the deputy chief while briefly talking to him that she strongly disagreed with that explanation.
“That’s their protocol that they created,” Williams said. “They can release the names. If they wanted to release the name of a suspect, they would do it easily. We are[saying] that they [the police officers involved] are our suspects, and we want them to release the names,” she said.
“We ask for an independent investigation,” explained civil rights attorney Nekima Levy-Pounds. “We want federal investigators involved because we don’t trust Minnesota law enforcement agents to hold each other accountable. We want to see federal intervention.”
On Sunday night, the MSR also talked to others outside the Northside police station, including Clark’s nephew, 22-year-old Martez Person of St. Paul.
“My uncle was a well appreciated man. He was handcuffed and killed,” said Person, who learned of his uncle’s death from his mother who called him shortly after the shooting. “We have to talk about this police brutality…killing the Black man.”
Minneapolis NAACP Vice President Cathy Jones reported that “several eyewitnesses [said] that the police officer shot and killed Jamar Clark execution style.”
“Our community has formed a ‘no-cop zone’…where Jamar Clark was killed,” said Black Lives Matter organizer Michael McDowell. “We said if you can’t protect and serve like you’re supposed to, then you can’t police or be in our community.
“We are calling out these elected officials,” continued McDowell, “who specifically ran [for office] on a racial justice platform. And now they are not living up to what they said. Black people are being brutalized right under their noses and [they are] not saying anything about it.”
Levy-Pounds shared McDowell’s sentiments. She told the MSR that she didn’t attend a meeting Sunday afternoon at the Minneapolis Urban League with Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, Police Chief Janee Harteau, and Councilman Blong Yang because, in her opinion, it was just a “dog and pony show.”
“If the mayor wants to speak to the community, come outside to the Fourth Precinct,” said Levy-Pounds.
MADDADS President V.J. Smith, however, did attend the Urban League meeting. “I think it’s important…that we need to get to the bottom of this,” he said.
“We are fed up,” said Williams. If this had happened to a young White male in Minnetonka, there would be no questions and the community would not be out like this. There is a real sickness in our police department here in Minneapolis. We don’t want to sit at the table and have another conversation or another dialogue. We want real action.”
“We do have some good cops who care about this community, and we do have some who are doing some things that are illegal,” said Smith. “If he [Clark] died the way they said he died, with handcuffs on, [then] justice must be served.”
Protesters say they will camp out front of the 4th Precinct station until City and police officials — namely Mayor Hodges and Chief Harteau — provide answers.
“There is a lot of pain right here, a tremendous amount of pain over this,” said Rev. Brian Herron, pastor of Zion Baptist Church. He was among several clergy meeting with protesters outside the station house.
Herron expressed the general sentiment that there is too much misinformation circulating around the community since Clark’s shooting. He suggested that Minneapolis Police “share the information” accurately, rather than telling community residents and others that it is an ongoing investigation. He also urges anyone who has information or video on what happened Sunday to come forward.
Many claim that the police are covering up what really happened. The Zion pastor also advised the community to be peaceful but forceful in their demands for answers: “We have to know what we want and go after that. And be very clear what we want and make these things that platform.”
Black Lives Matter Minneapolis’ Adja Gildersleeve told the MSR, “We will be in the streets to get justice for Jamar.” She and fellow BLM member Kandice Montgomery added that the community is suspicious of the local mainstream media in their reporting of Jamar’s death.
“Somebody dropped the ball, and the whole community wants answers,” said community activist John Martin.
James Hill, Clark’s father, said, “My son wasn’t a bad kid. I love my son. Getting shot like that, that’s bad. They [the police] don’t care.”
Hill told the MSR that he questions how the police officer or officers involved “can get paid” while they are on administrative leave, but the department can’t or won’t release their names to the public. “Police do what they want to do.”
A reporter asked if the Clark shooting will result in riots. “It’s not a Ferguson thing,” responded Bettie Smith, whose son Quincy Smith was killed in 2008 reportedly by police, but the case was never solved. She joined the protesters in calling what happened on Sunday a cover-up. “None of our children deserve to get shot and made to look like an animal. You [the police] are murdering our children. It will continue until the community comes together and steps up.”
See photos of protest outside of Fourth Precinct and on I-94 in the gallery at the top of the article. All photos by Chris Juhn.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.