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Minneapolis: Jamar Clark family deserves settlement equal to white woman killed by cops

By staff |
May 21, 2019
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Jamar Clark's brother, Eddie Sutton.
Jamar Clark's brother, Eddie Sutton. (Fight Back! News / Staff)

Minneapolis, MN - Community and family members gathered May 20 for a press conference to demand that the city of Minneapolis give the family of Jamar Clark a settlement equal to that awarded to the family of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. The Jamar Clark’s family has brought a civil suit against the city after the 2015 police murder, and mediation will take place May 21 inside the federal courthouse where the press conference was held.

Mediation comes after a May 3 decision by the Minneapolis city council to reject a settlement with the Clark family. On that same day, the city council announced a $20 million settlement award for the police killing of Damond, a white woman living in an affluent corner of the city. As they head into mediation, both sides of Jamar’s family, the Burns and the Clarks, have broad support.

Hundreds of have signed a petition that says, in part, "We value the life of a Black man from North Minneapolis as much as that of white woman from Southwest Minneapolis. No amount of money will bring beloved community members back; but if Justine’s life is worth $20 million, so is Jamar’s. Justice demands it."

James Clark, Jamar’s adopted father, said, “It’s sad that a Black man has to go through so much to get justice, and still justice ain’t been done and it’s sad. There is no justice for Black people. I’m sorry, I’m sad, I’m disappointed that this world is like this, because there should be justice for everybody.”

Several of Jamar’s biological siblings were also present. His brother, Eddie Sutton, said, “We are just here to send out a message that justice should be served evenly. We’re here in solidarity with Justine and still fighting for justice for Jamar.”

“Jamar Clark’s killers were never held accountable for their actions. Both sides of Jamar’s family have waited too long for someone to answer for what was taken from them,” said Angel Smith El of the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar (TCC4J). “We stand with them. We call on the city of Minneapolis to settle this lawsuit quickly and generously. We want Jamar Clark’s family to get a settlement equal to what Justine’s family got.”

Nekima Levy Armstrong, of the Racial Justice Network and former president of Minneapolis NAACP, blasted the city’s failure to hold police accountable. “The city of Minneapolis and Hennepin County continue to send a message time and time again that Black lives don’t matter. Many of us have been out on the front lines for years demanding that city government officials clean up the Minneapolis Police Department and remove those officers who have a history of excessive force, like [Jamar Clarks’ killers] Ringgenberg and Schwarze, who never should have been on the force in the first place.” After calling for a settlement of “at least $20 million,” she went further. “We also ask that Ringgenberg and Schwarze be fired from the Minneapolis Police Department. They are still armed and dangerous to the people of Minneapolis, and particularly to Black residents. And we call for resignation of our incompetent, racist county attorney Mike Freeman.”

Sarah Kuhnen, of Justice for Justine, stated, “We have to acknowledge that in our city most victims of police violence are people of color, and that racism and white supremacy are the reasons they don’t receive the treatment Justine Damond received. What Justine has gotten, we want for everyone.”

“We need to stop spending millions in taxpayer dollars for the pain that police officers inflict on city residents day after day,” said Angel Smith El. “In Minneapolis, we have a mayor and city council that refuse to get violent cops off our streets. Jamar’s killers had complaints against them, Justine’s killer did, and even the president of the police federation has dozens of complaints and lawsuits. We don’t want these kinds of officers patrolling our streets. We are for taking power over the police back into our hands, and we are organizing for community control of the police through an independent, elected, all-civilian Minneapolis Police Accountability Council, MPAC.”