In the name of solidarity, the NAACP national office, the NAACP Minneapolis chapter, along with Black Lives Matters Minneapolis and other community organizations and members, came together Friday, November 20, to honor the memory of Jamar Clark and all victims of police violence.
The rally, candlelight vigil, and march was held in front of the Fourth Precinct police station, located at 1925 Plymouth Avenue North in Minneapolis — one block from the ribbon and flower covered tree where Clark was shot by a police officer Sunday, November 15.
The MSR conducted a random census throughout the crowd to get an idea of who attended, where they came from and how they might identify themselves. Apparently, Black lives and the fight for justice matters to more than just Black people. The scene was populated by people from a wide range of ages, ethnicities, and cities across the state.
Pablo Tapia was standing on Plymouth Avenue holding one end of a five foot high banner that read in Spanish: Asamblea De Derechos Civiles, which in English means Assembly for Civil Rights. Tapia, who is Mexican and a co-founder of the organization, told the MSR, “We’re in this together, until we get this stuff fixed up. We know the feeling.”
Although helicopters and emotions were flying high, there were no reported incidents of conflict between the police and those in attendance. There was a sense of calm in the air. Attendees were given food, water, and music, and some kept warm with bonfires.
The crowd chanted “Black lives matter!” and “Justice for Jamar!” and sang We Shall Over Come, as community leaders took turns addressing the crowd.
The MSR spoke with NAACP Minneapolis President Nekima Levy-Pounds about her thoughts about the event and fight against injustice. “We’ve got to keep fighting for justice in this situation — justice for Jamar. He deserves to be vindicated,” said Levy-Pounds.
“We have too many narratives [where] unarmed African Americans are killed at the hands of police and it’s unacceptable. Everyone that has allowed the Minneapolis police to get this bad has blood on their hands, as far as I’m concerned. This would not have happened if they had done their jobs and they had the proper checks and balances within this system.
“Our community would not be suffering if they do their jobs and those in governmental roles stop being so apathetic. We, the people, need to step up as well,” said Levy-Pounds.
She continued, “We know human nature means that evils in the world and there’s going to be violations of the law, but with violations we should have checks and balances.”
Levy-Pounds was asked if she thought police behavior would change if officers nationwide were mandated to carry personal liability insurance and she replied, “It might change things because it’s personal liability. People are always concerned about protecting their own interest. So that’s one way moving forward, if the political will exists to make that happen.”
Levy-Pounds stressed checks and balances as the way to prevent more killing of unarmed Black men and women. “There needs to be proper screening to begin with, that includes psychological testing. Also, when they first start seeing patterns of brutality, use of excessive force or even talking to people disrespectfully, they need to be disciplined.
“But the union has too much power in the system,” continued Levy-Pounds. “People are afraid of the police union and afraid to push back, which is part of the problem. Well I’m sending a message out to all politicians: Stop running for office if you’re going to be scared!”
Levy-Pounds said that while we wait for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and the FBI to continue to review the videos, they are encouraging anyone with videos of Clark’s shooting to contact the NAACP Minneapolis branch office.
James L. Stroud, Jr. welcomes reader comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
James L. Stroud, Jr. is a contributing writer and photographer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.