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Protesters unyielding in the fight for Justice for Jamar Clark

By Jess Sundin |
December 1, 2015
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Minneapolis, MN - North Minneapolis was on high alert Monday, Nov. 30, after Mayor Betsy Hodges and Congressman Keith Ellison joined others in a press conference calling for an end to the occupation of the Fourth Precinct police station. The block of Plymouth Avenue in front of the police station has been closed for two weeks by protesters calling for justice for Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old African American man killed by police.

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis responded, saying, “[These] community ‘leaders’ are giving political cover to police to violently attack peaceful protestors yet again, and are more concerned with ending the #‎4thPrecinctShutDown‬ than ensuring #‎Justice4Jamar‬.”

That afternoon, police made a number of moves that suggested plans to evict the protesters. Police cars

with lights flashing were set up a block out from the encampment, scaffolding was erected behind the precinct walls and riot shields were set out at the ready. Defying the politicians’ warnings and the police posturing, hundreds came out in the snow and cold to hold the protest space until their demands are met. As of midnight, police had made no move, and dozens of protesters were set to stay another night.

Also on Nov. 30, four men were charged in last week’s shooting of protesters at the encampment. Their attack followed racist video threats posted on the internet, and the shooting put five protesters in the hospital. Allen Lawrence Scarsella was charged with five counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of second-degree riot. Three other men were charged with second-degree riot with a dangerous weapon. Protesters are disgusted that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman declined to charge the men with attempted murder and hate crimes.

All of this comes on the heels of the announcement that rather than charge the police officers involved in the killing of Jamar Clark, County Attorney Freemen will send the case to a grand jury. “A year ago tonight we took over highway 55 in response to a grand jury clearing the officer who killed Mike Brown of wrongdoing. Tonight we're camping in front of a police station with the eyes of the nation on Minneapolis to demand they not use the same broken grand jury system in the Jamar Clark case,” organizers stated.

The cover-up of the police killing of Laquan McDonald in Chicago is also on the minds of Minneapolis protesters, who are refusing to back down until the Minnesota authorities release the tapes in this case. According to Adja Gildersleve of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, “Ultimately, that is what we want here in Minneapolis in the Jamar Clark case. We’ve seen too many horrific tapes of police violence without prosecution and conviction. We are inspired by what is happening in Chicago and we hope that officers in both cases face the same scrutiny murderers face in due process.”

As the precinct occupation continues, other actions are unfolding every day. These include a #ReleaseTheTapes rally has been called for Dec. 1 at 4:00 p.m. outside the Hennepin County Government Center, and a Northside Community Meeting that will take place on Saturday, Dec. 5, at Franklin Middle School.