Last week, leaders of the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar responded to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s March 30 announcement that he would not prosecute two police officers for the killing of Jamar Clark. Coalition leaders challenged each point in the narrative Freeman presented as to what happen in the 61 seconds from the time police officers arrived until Jamar Clark was shot.
The leaders and members of Jamar Clark’s family made it clear they would continue to seek justice and an overhaul of the Minneapolis Police Department and policing practices. Below are excerpts from their March 30 protests:
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Cameron Clark, Jamar’s cousin
“The law is protecting these officers. Who’s supposed to protect us? I know my cousin would not tell that officer he was ready to die… For Mike Freeman to make that story up and lie like that, he got blood on his hands.”
Cameron was asked by a reporter what he wants people to remember about Jamar. “That he was not a bad person. Even when Jamar was down, he was always smiling… He would always make you laugh… He was a good person… He was changing… He [was] supposed to be here right now, today.”
Thandisizwe Jackson-Nissan, spokesperson for Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar Clark
“I am disgusted, but I am not surprised. It’s a reminder we don’t trust the system. I don’t trust Mr. Freeman, I don’t trust the MPD. Part of the reason I was disgusted [is] because they tried to and have been trying to criminalize Jamar Clark.”
Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
Responding to the video Freeman showed of the officer confronting Jamar, Hussein said: “From what I can tell the officer is the one who is escalating the situation, and so we’re going to keep continuing to ask the tough questions. And definitely we are extremely disappointed, but for many of us, not surprised. Justice is something we are going to keep working toward.”
Pastor Carmen Means
“It’s time that justice wake up. Because in Minneapolis today justice is asleep and she’s been asleep for quite some time… It’s a very disappointing day, but I will tell you this — out of every obstacle comes an opportunity. I want to give a charge to every faith leader that is preparing for Sunday morning, let your Sunday begin now.”
Pastor Danny Givens
“We are leaders in the community who are hurting. We are leaders in this community who continue to stay on the front lines for justice… If Mike Freeman had done his job today, we wouldn’t be here today saying, ‘Bye Mike Freeman…you’ll be ousted. I guarantee you, we’re not going to stop until it happens.’”
Wintana Melekin of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change
“We know MPD has a track record of being violent. Millions of dollar in payouts… Every single year budgets set aside for when cops kill people, beat people, harass people. How is that fair? How is that just? …We are spending our tax dollars. If you don’t care about Black lives, care about your wallets, ’cause I know White America does.”
Mel Reeves, journalist and Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar Clark organizer
Reeves called Freeman’s narrative a “fairy tale… He [Jamar] was not armed. Last I looked you can’t kill someone who is unarmed. There was no struggle and they covered every base…” including, Reeves said, alleging that Jamar had said he “wanted to die. No one heard that. We [will] continue to demand this community, the county of Hennepin, do the right thing and prosecute the officers.”
In an interview Sunday, April 2, Reeves again stated that the night Clark was shot, a dozen or more people were within earshot of where he was taken to the ground by Officer Mark Ringgenberg and then shot moments later by Officer Dustin Schwarze.
Reeves said, “No one saw him [Clark] struggle or heard him say he was ready to die,” as Freeman’s statement to the public alleged. In the video Freeman showed the public, Reeves said, Jamar “is just standing there… He’s not gesturing… An officer throws him to the ground. None of the witnesses saw him struggle…
“They got by with murder…and now they are covering it up.”
Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis, NAACP
“We need time to grieve as a result of this decision that was articulated today. Again, it wasn’t unexpected, but it’s still difficult to hear it with our own ears and see it with our own eyes… and injustice continuing to be perpetuated throughout this system… This system needs to be transformed and overhauled from top to bottom.
“We are more convinced, after seeing the video footage and hearing Mike Freeman’s narrative that he put forward, an injustice has been done today. Jamar Clark’s case did not happen in a vacuum. It happened in a climate in which police officers are never held accountable when they kill people in the state of Minnesota… We stand united today representing a collective of different organizations, and we will continue to fight for justice.
“Again today we say enough is enough.… We are putting Mayor Betsy Hodges on notice. We are not going to tolerate abuse at the hands of the MPD…”
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