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Protest at county attorney’s office demands no grand jury in police killing of Jamar Clark

By Jess Sundin |
March 5, 2016
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Michaela Nicole Day reading Clark family letter inside Freeman's office.

Minneapolis, MN - For the fourth week in a row, Friday, March 4 brought a crowd of protesters to the office of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, demanding justice for Jamar Clark, who was killed by Minneapolis police in November. Once again, Freeman was out of the office. This week, protesters came armed with a letter from Jamar’s parents, James and Wilma Clark. The open letter was directed to Freeman, as well as Governor Mark Dayton and Minneapolis Chief of Police Janeé Harteau, and was also shared with the media.

The office overflowed with community members insisting that the case would not find justice before a grand jury, which never deliver indictments in police killings. After Adrian Thompson and Jodie Carroll introduced the demands of the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar Clark, Michaela Nicole Day read the Clark family letter aloud, “We want justice for our son. That can only happen with an open trial, and no grand jury. We feel that everybody should know everything that went on.” She continued, “We want the police officers to pay for what they did. They know what they did. Our son is gone, and we want to see somebody pay for what they did. They didn’t have to take his life.”

Despite multiple eyewitness reports that Jamar was on the ground and handcuffed when shot in the face at point-blank range, police claim that Jamar had his hands on an officer’s gun when he was killed. The Clark family letter disputes this claim, “There is just no way that Jamar would have brought this on himself, because he knew the consequences of his actions. He was a young man who had his whole life in front of him. We feel the police are just covering up for mistakes they made.”

The letter closed with a clear plea to prosecute the police that killed their son, “We pray to God, and hope the truth comes out. That’s all we want. We think it should be in open court.”

After reading the letter, protesters filed out of the office and marched through the government center and busy nearby skyways, shouting chants of, “No justice, no peace, prosecute the police!” and “If Jamar don’t get it, shut it down!” The group pledged to return again next Friday and to keep calling the prosecutor to demand prosecution of the killer cops, and no grand jury.

In a related development, the U.S. Department of Justice announced this week that it will conduct a review of the police response to protesters that occupied the Fourth Precinct headquarters for 18 days in protest of Clark’s murder. Chief of police Harteau dismissed the need for the investigation, citing that the department was already addressing community concerns. She cited plans to change the department SWAT uniforms from the “militaristic” Army green to blue as one concrete change already in the works. Not surprisingly, Harteau made no mention of the repeated use of chemical irritants, or the failure to pursue armed white supremacists who fired on protesters right in front of the station.