See scenes from Wednesday night’s protests in the gallery ab0ve. All photos by Chris Juhn.
National NAACP joins fight for answers
The NAACP Minneapolis branch is calling for a federal takeover of the city’s police department in light of the treatment of protesters Wednesday night, said its branch president.
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Prior to a Thursday morning press conference outside the Fourth Precinct police station, NAACP-Minneapolis President Nekima Levy-Pounds told the MSR that the local NAACP chapter wants a “long-term federal intervention. We want to see changes in the way this department operates and how it treats the people [of Minneapolis].”
When asked during the press conference what a “federal receivership” means, Levy-Pounds replied, “It would take control of the Minneapolis [police department].
“We know that it is a broken system, and we need an early intervention system” to track problem officers and help dismiss them, if needed, she added. There are officers who have accumulated incidents of abuse against citizens of color, noted Levy-Pounds. “They are not being disciplined as they should be.”
She also accused police officials of putting out “false narratives on what has happened” regarding the Clark shooting, as well as its “militarization” practices, such as what occurred Wednesday night outside the police station.
“We have serious concerns that the narratives that are out there are inconsistent with what many witnesses are saying happened,” continued Levy-Pounds. “We are also asking the community to show restraint,” added the president. “We demand the same respect from the Minneapolis Police Department” as is seemingly given to non-citizens of color.
Stephen A. Green, NAACP National Director, Youth and College Division also appeared with Levy-Pounds at Thursday’s press conference. He told the MSR beforehand that the national organization wants the city police department “to show immediate restraint” as the protest continues in front of the police station on Plymouth Avenue.
“Police brutality by the Minneapolis Police Department has been an ‘open secret’ in the state of Minnesota,” continued Levy-Pounds. “The stories I have heard from the community have been appalling.
She cited several incidents she’s heard about, including one involving a 10-year-old boy. “I hear the stories from the community and I’ve seen the disrespect and the brutality with my own eyes. It is not being condemned by the governor all the way down. This has got to stop.”
“We are to monitor and watch what is going on with our eyes, and to tell them the nation is watching,” added Green.
The local NAACP branch is also calling for any videos that the police have in regard to the alleged beating of two women late Wednesday night by police, as well as any video regarding the Clark shooting last weekend to be released to the public.
“We witnessed two women getting beat up by police officers,” said Jayson Morris, who told the MSR that he doesn’t know what provoked them to take such action.
“This police department needs to be put in federal receivership,” reiterated Levy-Pounds. “We have tolerated from the hands of the police for far too long. The shooting death of Jamar Clark was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of some of the abusive practices on behalf of the Minneapolis Police Department, and the harassment and the criminalization of residents by the Minneapolis Police Department. We are demanding justice.”
Levy-Pounds, who is also a St. Thomas law professor, said she is strongly advocating for the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute the case. She doesn’t want the case to go to a grand jury “[because] we know that these grand juries don’t indict [police officer involved in shootings],” she said. “We want a direct prosecution based on probable cause.”
Levy-Pounds said she has not met with Mayor Hodges yet, but plans to in the near future “but right now it’s time for action,” she contended.
Still, the protest outside of the Fourth Precinct is in its fifth day. A female protester who wished her identity not published told the MSR Thursday, “Everybody is sick and tired. Everybody wants the same thing.”
The woman expressed concern, however, that some young people may run out of patience and choose instead non-peaceful ways to protest what’s happening. “I’m concerned about the young people who might not understand the long-term ramifications” if violent actions are taken, said the woman.
Morris added that he “witnessed many children getting hit with pepper spray and rubber bullets” Wednesday night. He and others told protesters not to throw rocks and other objects at police in response, he said.
“We plan to continue using all available methods,” including social media to initiate changes, said Levy-Pounds. “We will continue to lobby the federal government to get involved. We will continue to encourage the community to march and to demonstrate. We will have petitions and write letters.
“What is happening with the police department is just one aspect of Minneapolis being a tale of two cities — the best of times for Whites and the worst of times for Blacks” in all segments of life, including employment, education, housing, access to capital, as well as social and criminal justice.
“It’s time for that to change, as well as changes in the police department,” concluded Levy-Pounds.
Also on Thursday, Congressman Keith Ellison joined the chorus of people calling for the release of video footage that led to Jamar Clark’s shooting.
A vigil and march with national NAACP President Cornell Williams Brooks, NAACP-Minneapolis, Black Lives Matter-Minneapolis and community members is planned for Friday, 4:30 pm at the Fourth Precinct police station.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I was actually just thinking in light of the outrageous and inflammatory behavior of the local NAACP chapter, that the national organization should come in and take over. it would be great if the community had some responsible local leadership instead of the publicity seeking folks in those chairs today.
The police in many cities get away with things due to their unions, and the stupid grand jury members.
Want to end racism? Try behaving civilized. Teach your children to respect authority and their fellow person. Teach your children to hold themselves accountable for their actions. School is not a playground but an institution, a tool to better yourself and your community. I’m not racist. My wife is half black and my children are part black but all too often I see people (black/brown/white) avoid the core issue. The true issue is family values, which helps children value themselves and their fellow man. You want to end racism? Break the cycle and be a responsible parent. Kids emulate your ever action.
Want to end racism end the concept of white privilege,white supremecy. Black,brown,asian and all people see this everyday of their lives. Explain why most institutions are owned or run by white people. If you think our children don’t see this you are being very naive. Ken Booth
Everybody has a cell phone. They all record videos, if what you claim happened SHOW THE VIDEO! You talk and cause chaos without real substance!
Levy-Pounds stated “This police department needs to be put in federal receivership,”
You call yourself a leader. You are despicable , your claims are unsubstantiated you don’t have a grasp of Federal, State and municipal laws and responsibilities! Keep your mouth shut until you do your homework, don’t inflame the community generate hate and fear, based on hearsay and conjecture. We don’t need the likes of people like you to inflame the community. Put fourth positive suggestions and solutions. This community needs to come together work together to resolve conflict between law enforcement and the citizens it serves. This in not a BLACK vs the cops problem when you stop thinking like that is when real change will start!