Members of the Racial Justice Network and Black Lives Matters Twin Cities have called for police accountability after a North Minneapolis crash injuring six Black men went viral. Dozens gathered at the crash site, a bus shelter on West Broadway and Lyndale avenues, demanding answers after George Jensen, an 83-year-old White man drove his vehicle into the shelter.
Video filmed minutes after the crash on Tuesday shows injured victims laid out on the sidewalk as police cordoned off the area and laughed and smiled with Jensen. The groups questioned why the Metro Transit Police (MTP), had failed to file charges against Jensen after Tuesday’s accident, which left three of the six men in critical condition.
“Had a Black man driven his vehicle into a crowd of White people at a local bus stop, there would have been hell to pay,” said Chauntyll Allen, head of Black Lives Matter Twin Cities, in a recent statement. “He would have been immediately arrested or killed by police, his mugshot and criminal history would have been all over the media, and he would still be in custody, with almost no chance of seeing the light of day.”
Activist and law professor Nekima Levy Armstrong said during the July 11 press conference at the intersection of West Broadway and Lyndale avenues that Jensen “needs to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.” One after another, speakers lined up to call for justice, action and resources in response to the groups’ demands as well as to help address ongoing crime and violence issues in the area.
“Our community deserves better than what happens in this lot,” said Edwin Williams, senior pastor of Sanctuary Covenant Church, referring to the parking lot behind the shelter. “We have been asking for help for the past two years…and there has been little done to actually address what is happening. That’s a part of the bigger problem. We need help, resources.”
Among the demands was a community meeting with MET Council Chair Nora Slawik and MTP Chief AJ Olson. “That is an immediate thing that can happen,” said Levy Armstrong, “so we can voice our opinion on how this was covered, for reprimand of the officers and how they handled this, and ask for a third party to investigate.”
Levy Armstrong also called for the community to get active before the next tragedy. “We have to get organized and stay organized and be consistent,” she told the MSR.
“We’re calling elected officials, were showing up places, we’re putting the word out on social media. Don’t wait for a crisis — by then it’s too late. You have to be consistent because we’re being impacted on all fronts.”
VJ Smith, Minneapolis chapter president of MAD DADS, whose group was doing community outreach in the lot, said staying on the front lines is paramount for change. “Our plan is to tackle four things: gangs, mental health, drug addiction, poverty,” he told the MSR. “That means we have to dig deeper, but we have to have resources. There have been no resources put to this corner. So, here we sit again.
“We don’t have capacity, we don’t have resources, we don’t have staffing, but you want us to solve this problem. No, you don’t.”