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Keith Ellison and politicians: We demand justice for George and all victims of police crimes!

By Jess Sundin |
June 6, 2020
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June 5 march against police crimes in St Paul, MN.
June 5 march against police crimes in St Paul, MN. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

St. Paul, MN - On Friday, June 5, the day after the Minneapolis memorial for George Floyd, and two days after all of his killers were finally charged for his murder, the building that houses the office of state Attorney General Keith Ellison was shut down by some 3000 protesters who came to demand more than charges in this single case. Organized by the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar (TCC4J), they called for re-opening all the cases of police homicide that district attorneys have failed to prosecute in counties across the state, and for community control of police to bring an end to police crimes against their communities. At the same time, they pledged to keep pressure on AG Ellison, to ensure he effectively prosecutes the four fired cops who murdered Floyd.

Protesters filled the street and sidewalks for two blocks, rallying with speakers from community, labor and student groups, as well as family members of loved ones killed by police.

AFSCME Local 3800 member Meron Negussie began by calling for justice for Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in her Louisville home. “George Floyd was murdered in broad daylight in Minneapolis, which led to the arrest of four former officers involved. It took not just Minnesota but the whole world for that to happen in a system that is designed to oppress and terrorize and oppress brown and Black folk. We made that happen. Power to the people!”

“The murdering of Black and brown people is the great American pastime,” said Mahva Jones, also of AFSCME 3800. “This is not a moment; this is a movement. We are here to take over. We are not here to stand by and let this crap continue.”

All of Floyd’s killer have been arrested, and the prosecution was taken out of the hands of County Attorney Mike Freeman, whose delays gave rise to a nationwide outpouring of rage and the burning of hundreds of buildings in the Twin Cities, including the Third Precinct police station. Almost every speaker expressed no confidence that the case was safe in the hands of AG Ellison.

“Now is not the time to get complacent. Now is the time for boots on the ground, and squeeze!” said Don Williams, grandfather of Brian Quiñones, a hip hop artist whose was murdered by police in Richfield, Minnesota in September 2019. In response to the scrutiny now faced by the Minneapolis police department, he said, “If the Department of Justice or somebody investigates the MPD, they need to turn around and investigate the Hennepin County District Attorney’s office, both of Mike Freeman’s terms and Amy Klobuchar’s term.”

The Twin Cities have been rocked by massive protests every day, and nightly clashes with police, in response to the murder of George Floyd last Monday night. Marques Armstrong from Racial Justice Network said, “We ain’t following their rules anymore because their rules are set up for us to fail and them to win.” He added, “I bet they know now that we serious as hell about this!”

Gabriel Black Elk of Native Lives Matter spoke about his brother Paul Castaway, who was killed by Denver police. When he struggled for words, the crowd chanted, “We’ve got your back!” He also told the story of a Native woman who was killed by police in New Brunswick, Canada, just two days before. The crowd joined him in chants of “Justice for Chantel Moore!”

A close friend of Travis Jordan spoke about how he was murdered by Minneapolis police last year, when a wellness check turned into a senseless murder.

Sharaunta Beach from AFSCME 2822 also called for the ouster of Mike Freeman and Amy Klobuchar. She said, “We want justice. We want justice now. We gotta stand up, boots on the ground, and fight back.”

Kobe Heisler was killed by Brooklyn Center police last September. His father, Jason Heisler said, “My son is a Black autistic man, who was 21 years old, unarmed in his own house. We don’t need cops taking a knee, we need to change the police force. It needs systematic reform from the top down. Kobe was an autistic Black gay man they murdered in his own house.” For the first time, just this week, a few members of the family viewed an edited version of the body camera footage of the deadly encounter. They want the unedited video released immediately.

Autumn Lake of the Anti-War Committee called out the surplus military equipment transferred to local police departments across the U.S., “equipment that we have seen used by the occupying forces of the Minneapolis and Saint Paul police departments every day since we started protesting for George Floyd.”

She then addressed the 1969 Stonewall Riot against police terror in New York. “The queer community of New York decided that they had enough of being dragged out into the street and beaten by police, they had enough of lives being stolen by the police, and they decided they were gonna fucking fight back. The first punch was thrown by a Black lesbian named Stormé DeLarverie, and the first brick was thrown by a Black transgender woman by the name of Martha P Johnson. We did not cancel Pride this year [the official event was canceled because of coronavirus restrictions], we’re doing it the same way Marsha and Storm did, and we’re doing it by resisting police terror together!” Lake mentioned the recent murder of Black trans man Tony McDade by police in Tallahassee, Florida, and the Monday’s mob attack on a Black trans woman named Iyanna Dior in the Twin Cities.

UMN Students for a Democratic Society speaker Jaelah Lyman lifted up the names of Black women killed by police, and called for community control of the police, including on the University of Minnesota campus, where the Minneapolis Police Department will no longer be involved, but the University of Minnesota Police Department continues to be a problem.

After more than an hour of speakers and chants led by TCC4J organizers Angel Smith El, the protesters set out to march to the state capitol building. Cars honked their support, and folks on the street joined in the chants, including dozens of people at a transit station who through their hands in the air, chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot!”

It’s clear that the fight against police crimes is just getting going in Minnesota, and community members are fighting to win.