“Justice for Jamar! Justice for Jamar!” The crowd of nearly 150 heard those chants as they gathered with others in the same empty lot across from the Fourth Precinct in North Minneapolis, where Jamar Clark was killed on November 15, 2015. The memory of Clark’s death is still fresh for the family as well as for many other residents of Minneapolis, especially along Plymouth Avenue. Red balloons still mark the spot where he died.
Clark would have been 26 on May 3 had he not been shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer that evening.
To honor Clark and to celebrate his birthday, the Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice hosted a vigil for the family and the community. The May 3 event began at the lot across the street from the Fourth Precinct, the area occupied by protesters in November 2015.
“It’s a shame that Clark isn’t here to celebrate his 26th birthday with us,” said Sam Sanchez of Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice. “It is also important for us as individuals to recognize the things we learned from the movement and to thank the diverse group of people…who stood in solidarity and took over the Fourth Precinct. The fight against police crime and police terror is a fight for all of us who are low-income and a person of color. The ruling class doesn’t care about the working class.”
The Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice was created after the killing of Jamar Clark. The coalition was organized by people from various backgrounds and community organizations. Each person or group demanded prosecution of the police officer, no grand jury, and prosecution of the White supremacists who shot into the crowd of protestors during the occupation at Fourth Precinct. In addition, the coalition demanded County Attorney Mike Freeman be held responsible for the prosecution of the police officers responsible for Clark’s death.
The goal of the coalition is to promote mutual respect and to coordinate with different perspectives. In addition, the coalition focuses on the abolition of the police institution instead of relying on results through the very same department. The Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice has also been instrumental in the police brutality cases of Philando Castile and Marcus Golden.
“I’m so thankful for all of you,” said Monique Cullars-Doty, aunt of Marcus Golden. “It is important we continue to seek justice through Jamar. We have a lot of things to talk about, such as Janee Harteau trying to appoint a former Minneapolis Police Federation president as the head of the Fourth Precinct.
“Or about how the police spending a lot of money on media to portray a good image in the community? We need to make sure the police stop beating up our brothers and sisters, meaning people of all ethnicities. Today, we are going to celebrate Jamar’s life,” said Cullars-Doty.
After the speeches, the crowd marched down Plymouth Avenue chanting, “If Jamar don’t get it, shut it down.” A vigil was held with balloons and lighted candles and a sign “4 JAMAR” held by Clark’s family. Following a moment of silence, the crowded continued the celebration as Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA” played in the background
“We all come out and celebrate the times we had with Jamar right here by this tree,” said Michael Burns, nephew of Jamar Clark. “It’s not the cops; it’s the organization in the precinct. Jamar didn’t deserve this, but we’re not mad about what happened — it’s how it happened.
“We’re not mad at the cops. We don’t have any [anger] towards them, but we are speaking out. Everybody has a chance. My uncle just wanted a chance to make a change from a young man to a man,” said Burns. “My family and I are not looking for revenge. We are looking for justice.”
Monique Cullars-Doty shared her sentiment for justice for other victims killed by police. “This gave us an opportunity not just to organize for [Jamar], but we were able to go back and bring up other people such as Terrance Franklin, Marcus Golden, Quincy Smith, and Phil Quinn. People began to start asking questions, and it showed the injustices of St. Paul as well. What came about was the Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice. We are still out here organizing.”
The crowd then marched back to the Fourth Precinct location, shouting, “Black Lives — they matter here!” There was fireworks and a final theme for the evening: “We’re Gonna be Alright” (another song by Kendrick Lamar).
“We have a duty to fight for our freedom,” the crowd chanted at the rally’s close. “We have a duty to win, and we must protect one another.”
Ivan Phifer welcomes readers’ responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ivan B. Phifer is contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at email@example.com