November 15 is a day many North Minneapolis residents will never forget for two reasons. On November 15, 2015, Jamar Clark was fatally shot by Minneapolis Police Officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze. Clark a 24-year-old African American, died the night of his shooting at Hennepin County Medical Center. His death sparked an 18-day protest in front of the Minneapolis Fourth Precinct in North Minneapolis. District Attorney Mike Freeman announced on March 30, 2016 that no charges would be filed against the officers.
On November 15, 2016, the one-year anniversary of Clark’s death, civil rights attorney and former NAACP Minneapolis President, Nekima Levy-Pounds, announced her bid for Minneapolis mayor at the Fourth Precinct. “I intentionally chose November 15, because it is a day I will remember for the rest of my life,” she said. “I left my job as a law professor after 13 years at the University of St. Thomas to step into this position to greater serve my community. So I have no apologies for choosing this day to let Jamar Clark and his family know, his death will not be in vain.”
Levy-Pounds also stressed the importance of the Fourth Precinct location for her announcement, stating “I believed what happened during the occupation at Fourth Precinct was absolutely groundbreaking. My life is forever changed as a result of witnessing the community come together to channel their grief and standing in solidarity.
“People from Minnetonka, and southwest Minneapolis, areas who do not experience the poverty we experience on the north side, come out of their comfort zone to help make a difference. That’s the spirit I want to see ushered in our city,” said Levy-Pounds.
(Below, see video of Pounds’ press conference shot live by Ivan B. Phifer)
In light of Clark’s shooting and most recently that of Philando Castile, who was shot by St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez July 6, Levy-Pounds stressed improvements were needed in the criminal justice system and law enforcement. “We cannot allow police officers to engage in the use of excessive force, to criminalize our citizens and allow our system to operate in a broken fashion. It’s a waste of time, talent and resources, to have such a broken criminal justice system and system of policing,” said Levy-Pounds.
“Sadly in the city of Minneapolis, those officers have rarely been held accountable. In fact, our council members and mayor’s office have rubber-stamped allegations of excessive force by settling tens of millions of dollars in lawsuits.” Her comments came a day before Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced that his office would be filing second-degree manslaughter charges against Police Officer Yanez in the shooting death of Castile.
Members of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis (BLM) and the Minneapolis NAACP — both organizations of which Levy-Pounds is a member, also made remarks. BLM activist Danny Givens, Jr. said, “The change is here, the change is now. We are saying bye-bye Betsy Hodges! We are done with the status quo.”
Levy-Pounds also criticized Hodges’ leadership saying: “For years, we have sat under the current administration speaking of equity and ‘one Minneapolis’ and bridging the gap — but if you go into certain areas of the city, we will see people are still facing economic distress.”
Mayor Hodges plans to run for re-election against Levy-Pounds. The election will be held November 7, 2017.
Ivan B. Phifer welcomes reader comments to email@example.com.