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Racist gets off with plea deal in shooting of Justice 4 Jamar protesters

By Marty Branyon and Jess Sundin |
June 13, 2017
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Minneapolis, MN - Judge Hilary Caliguiri approved a deal today, June 12, between Hennepin County prosecutors and Nathan Gustavsson, one of the white supremacists involved in the November 2015 shooting of five Black men at a protest demanding justice for Jamar Clark.

News of a deal was leaked on Thursday, June 10, and today, the terms were released. Gustavsson pled guilty to one count of 2nd degree riot, and one count of aiding an offender after the fact. The deal means he will serve six to eight months jail time and pay $300 in court costs, followed by five to ten years’ probation.

Defense attorney Robert Jones said he will argue for a sentence that will allow Gustavsson's offenses to be reduced from felonies to misdemeanors after fulfilling the terms of his plea agreement.

“I’m tired of this white supremacy,” said Cameron Clark. Cameron was an outspoken participant in the demonstrations following the murder of his unarmed cousin, Jamar, by Minneapolis police. He was one of the victims of the violent racist attack, and objected to the light charges in this case from the outset. Allen Scarsella, the shooter, was convicted on several counts of assault, and related charges, but not attempted murder and no hate crimes charges. He was also not charged with endangering the lives of the many people present when he emptied his gun into the crowd that night. Gustavsson was not hit with the same charges, despite the fact that, in the words of Cameron Clark, “If it was me and my friend, we would both get charged.” The other two racists with Scarsella and Gustavsson had the charges against them dropped entirely.

Today’s plea was made over the objections of many community members who called in to oppose the deal, as well as Cameron Clark, who was so upset that he hung up on prosecutors when they called to notify him of the deal.

When prosecutors called Cameron to tell him about the deal, he challenged them on the assertion that Gustavsson was “an accessory after the fact.” Gustavsson was with the now-convicted shooter, Allen Scarsella, throughout the attack. Cameron learned that Gustavsson had also come to the protest armed. A text from Gustavsson just days before the attack, read at Scarsella’s trial, also shows his full participation in the events that sent five men to the hospital. He wrote, “Dude, if this shit is going down on Monday, we need to get down there. I could rile so much shit up.”

The shooting came after video threats were posted online, filled with racist language. Videos were made after an earlier trip by Scarsella to the Jamar protest, where he and another racist wore masks, waved guns and heaped racist slurs into the camera in their car before walking through the crowd gathered outside the Minneapolis Fourth Precinct police station. Having watched those videos, Gustavsson went with Scarsella, knowing exactly what his racist friend had in mind. The two shared a love of guns, and a white supremacist outlook. They fled the scene together and Gustavsson admitted today to conspiring with Joe Backman to slow down the subsequent investigation by attempting to hide video evidence of the attack. Gustavsson was a part of the violent racist plan, from start to finish.

When Gustavsson testified for Scarsella in January, he was strident, insisting that they had done nothing wrong, that the armed white men feared for their lives, and that the shooting was justified. Despite this having been in Calguiri’s court room, just a few months ago, she took his willingness accept losing his gun rights as a justification for this lenient deal. The charges in the plea are felonies and would strip him of his gun rights, unless they are later reduced to misdemeanors. Gustavsson did not express any regret or shed any tears in the courtroom today.

Final sentencing Is scheduled for July 19, at 8:30 a.m. Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar will meet this week to plan a response, and support Cameron in the other victims in their demand for justice.