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Minneapolis anti-police terror movement shuts down Mayor Hodges press conference

Demands justice for Justine Damond
By staff |
July 23, 2017
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Protest at City Hall demands justice for Justine Damond.
Protest at City Hall demands justice for Justine Damond. (Fight Back! News / Staff)

Minneapolis, MN - On July 21, 150 people gathered together at Loring Park for a demonstration demanding justice for Justine Damond, who was murdered by the Minneapolis Police Department. The demo was held in spite of an announcement the same day that Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau would resign and Assistant Police Chief Medaria Arradondo would take her place.

At 6 p.m. the “Solidarity March: Justice for Victims of Police Violence” began. It was hosted by members of community groups, such as Active Resistance 14, Black Lives Matter Twin Cities, Communities United Against Police Brutality, Native Lives Matter Grassroots, New North, and Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar. Activists gave speeches, and then proceeded to march down Hennepin Avenue towards the Minneapolis City Hall.

Upon arriving at city hall activists voiced concerns that the mayor’s press conference was moved. It was scheduled to take place live on the city hall steps where Hodges would talk about the resignation of Chief Janee Harteau and appointment of Assistant Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. As anger spread through the crowd, chants of “No justice, no peace,” “Justice for Justine,” and “Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell,” rang out.

The crowd then moved from the front steps to the back entry. Finding all entries locked, they continued chanting.

As a press person walked up and tried to enter the building, the crowd then grew angry again. The press person was directed into another entry and began sprinting to enter. The crowd then began sprinting after him. But they were again locked out.

The Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar began the call for entry and the crowd split to cover both entries. In the back, the crowd encountered three Minneapolis police officers and demanded to be let into the press conference. As the encounter progressed, the police began to retreat, during which additional press was let into the building. As the door opened, the crowd led by the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar entered the back doors and into the city hall rotunda. Security code calls and alarms began echoing in the rotunda. They crowd celebrated their victory and then began organizing to bring the other half of the group into city hall.

Upon both groups converging, they proceeded up to the third floor where the Mayor Hodges press conference was taking place behind closed doors. The crowd burst into the room packed full of local, national and international press live-broadcasting Betsy Hodges’ explanation of Janee Harteau’s forced resignation.

John Thompson, Philando Castile’s friend and member of the New North, began the disruption of Hodges speech. Although Hodges persisted, the community overpowered her speech with chants of “Bye, bye, Betsy,” as more community members streamed into the room. Staff members then began trying to block the door but the community would not be stopped, despite the pushing and shoving.

Mayor Hodges was forced to retreat from the press conference and the community then took over the podium and began to hold a People’s Press Conference. John Thompson began speaking on the inequities of the police system. He was followed by Chauntyll Allen from Black Lives Matter Twin Cities who reiterated the call for Betsy Hodges’ resignation, and Michelle Gross from Communities United Against Police Brutality spoke addressing the ineffectiveness of body cams and poor police oversight.

Sam Sanchez from the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar spoke, “The people are tired of not being listened to. Body cams that aren’t turned on after all our tax dollars were wasted on them. We can’t even get the police officers to have self-insurance.”

Sanchez continued, “It is time for the community to take back this building. It is time to take back control of the Fourth Precinct and turn it back into a recreation center! It is time for the community to take control of the police, not bullshit control, not no half-ass control! We are not going to beg city council for what we want, we are going to take it directly. We want hiring, we want firing power, we want control of the contract! We want removal of white supremacist Police Federation President Bob Kroll. We want those killer cops sent to jail and we are going to get that via community control. All power to the people.”

After the People’s Press Conference ended community groups then held a rally outside on the City Hall front steps. After the rally, they then marched back to Loring park arriving around 9 p.m.