City tense after African American shot and killed, anger building
[We] need “to unify our strength and achieve a result that has been too long in coming.”— French President Francois Hollande, November 16, 2015
“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”— Martin Luther King, Jr.
Police shot 24-year-old African American Jamar Clark November 15 in North Minneapolis. Mr. Clark was taken off of life support early Monday morning.
Tensions remain extremely high given the controversy surrounding the shooting. Two Minneapolis police officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, with pay.
In a first for the Minneapolis Police Department regarding an officer involved shooting, the Federal Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) has taken over the investigation. Early Monday, November 16, the mayor announced that the U.S. Department of Justice was asked to conduct an investigation into Mr. Clark’s death.
As the Star Tribune reported, the mayor and the chief have “utmost faith” in the state of Minnesota investigation, but believe a federal probe will assist “the interests of transparency and community confidence.” The Baptist State Convention and Council Member Blong Yang, who represents part of the North Side and oversees the council’s Public Safety Committee, and others, including the Minneapolis NAACP, support the request. When announced, the crowd demonstrating outside the Fourth Precinct applauded.
Monday, November 16, almost 100 law enforcement automobiles were employed along Highway 94, going through the northern part of Minneapolis, as 100 protesters blocked Interstate 94 for two hours by linking arms together across the freeway.
In our next column, we will have more detailed information on the shutdown of Highway 94 and the siege of the Fourth Precinct Station on Plymouth Avenue.
Meetings were held November 14, 15, and 16 at New Salem Church. More are planned. Press conferences were held at City Hall, and statements were issued by various organizations, Black and White.
What is important now is to allow the investigation to go forward before unsubstantiated incriminations and allegations become the order of the day. Some maintain that Mr. Clark was handcuffed at the time he was shot in the head by one of the two police officers. Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and the NAACP Minneapolis branch claim to have witnesses who saw what they are calling an execution-style murder of Mr. Clark.
As of the writing of this story, no video has been released for review. The leadership of the Minneapolis branch of the Urban League has offered to provide a stenographer and legal advisors to witnesses. In a very contentious Urban League meeting of over 100 citizens, organizational leadership of different groups pleaded with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and others to allow the investigative process to go forward, to not rush to judgment, to not obstruct the investigation, and to withhold judgment until the investigation is completed.
These tragedies are not new, nor are tactical and strategic mistakes that can result in no indictments and no consequences for police actions. Thus, in light of such tensions causing the city to become polarized and divided, we call for calm and responsible action, in order to give the investigation process a chance.
Mean-spirited reflections and comments directed against the African American community are appearing on social media as well as extremely dangerous threats being posted against law enforcement. This results in no winners, only losers.
It is important that we all understand and allow the process to work, and not tear each other apart out of hatred, fear, or any other emotion, even though some like the American tradition of violence against the Black community.
We need to establish purpose and goals for moving forward.