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Speaking out against police repression in MN

By Ameera Khan |
April 21, 2021
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Minneapolis march against police crimes.
Minneapolis march against police crimes. (Emma Leigh Sron)

Minneapolis, MN - On April 15, the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar (TCC4J) hosted a press conference to denounce police violence against protesters. Sam Martinez of Twin Cities 4 Justice for Jamar emceed the rally.

The opening speech featured TCC4J member DJ Hooker, standing alongside Victor Ramirez of MN Immigrant Rights Action Committee, whose face was covered in bruises due to broken facial bones from a police projectile.

Speakers noted that police and city authority action are restricting First Amendment rights, the freedom of speech and to protest, including:

-- Posting official signage asking for no “offensive” slogans

-- Removing and cutting down peaceful protests of hanging locks and ribbons on fences on multiple occasions

-- Citing “cleanliness” as an excuse to deploy police

-- Holding over 100 protesters in jail for 36 hours

-- Having state agents from Operation Safety Net the National Guard, attack the press and even residents of the apartments across from the Brooklyn Center Police Department

-- Having the groups referred to as “Street Navigators” intentionally deployed to disrupt organizers from protesting, and including them among the only exempted groups from curfews

-- Turning off the lights at the Brooklyn Center Police Department so that visibility of badge numbers would be obstructed in protestor and press coverage

-- Destroying press equipment and recording storage to remove evidence of their brutality

Hooker’s talk included a testimonial regarding the “Street Navigators,” groups that are paid by the city to physically threaten organizers and interrupt their organizing. Street Navigators from Push for Peace literally pushed Hooker around, after already threatening to beat them up, while they were on the mic and speaking to the crowd. The Street Navigators also unplugged the mic during the speeches. Hooker said, “we are target practice for them,” noting that the cops intentionally targeted and shot Black and brown bodies with rubber bullets. They mentioned this as another reason why community control of police is needed - the community would never act as monstrously as these militarized cops.

Victor Ramirez’s testimonial was especially emotional, as the trauma of his facial fracture from rubber bullet wounds is rearing its ugly head. He cannot even hear any “small popping noises,” can’t watch the videos from the press covering the protests and can’t even cry. He ended saying that police are out in body armor, fully armed and in formation - but they’re saying they’re scared of him, in no gas mask, a t-shirt and sweatpants.

Nekima Levy Armstrong of the Racial Justice Network added that even the press has been injured, mentioning a journalist shot in the ring finger and others injured, and others detained and arrested. Most of these journalists said they have never experienced anything like this level of brutality before. Emcee Martinez added after this speech, that people have lost eyes and limbs from these so called ‘non-lethal weapons.’

Michelle Gross Communities United Against Police Brutality spoke up and mentioned that she has personally seen dozens of protestors with injuries that they do not get treated for because they are uninsured, and it would be cost-prohibitive. Among these is a young man with a hole in his neck, and many people with three-inch holes in their body from 40 mm rubber bullets.

Levy Armstrong declared that Minnesota is the “Jim Crow North” in its targeted lynching of Black people, and called out Sherriff Dave Hutchinson, Governor Tim Walz, and the Minnesota Democrat Party for their complacency and outright animosity against the protest movements. She also called out Christian conservatives and evangelicals who claim to believe in Jesus to truly walk the path of the Gospel, and fight against the criminal justice system, as Jesus was crucified by the criminal justice system.

Speakers expressed outrage at the lies put out by state and local officials in a press event the day before.

Jaylani Hussein of CAIR-MN noted that those children and families in the apartments across from the Brooklyn Center police station are not terrorized by the protests outside, but by state violence. He said, “We did not want to come out here, we were forced to come out here,” because the police refuse to listen to one simple request: “Stop killing us.” He said he is tired of fighting for the rights already guaranteed in the constitution.

Toshira Garraway Allen, of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, closed the press conference by asking, “Who listens to the families? Not the police - if they listened, then there would be no George Floyd and no Daunte Wright. Our community listens to the families. Human sacrifices should not be necessary to change the law.”

Martinez ended the event by listing the demands TCC4J have for the city, including:

-- Reopening the cases of police murders in Minnesota with independent investigations

-- Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail

-- Stop the street navigators program entirely

-- End the curfews

-- Free all the protesters and drop their charges

-- Community control of police via the Civilian Police Accountability Commission (CPAC) legislation in the city of Minneapolis

-- Passing the nine police reform bills the groups are pushing at the state capitol

TCC4J and other speakers also announced that their coalition of 20-plus other activist groups will protest for the April 19 closing arguments of the Derek Chauvin trial and on the day the jury returns a verdict.

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