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Community holds memorial vigil for Jamar Clark, storms city councilor’s meeting

By staff |
November 19, 2018
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Memorial vigil for Jamar Clark.
Memorial vigil for Jamar Clark. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Minneapolis, MN - A defiant crowd shut-down Plymouth Avenue in North Minneapolis, November 15, to mark the third year since the police murder of Jamar Clark. The evening began with a vigil, “at the place where Jamar Clark took his last breaths,” according to an invitation from the organizers, Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar (TCC4J).

In 2015, 24-year-old Jamar Clark was shot in the head within 61 seconds of an encounter with Minneapolis police. Plymouth Avenue outside the Fourth Precinct was the site of an 18-day occupation, complete with tents, bonfires and thousands of people taking a historic stand against police crimes, all in protest of the sickening murder of Clark.

Clark’s family started gathering in the early evening, laying out dozens of votive candles spelling out his name, “Jamar,” at the site where he died. Community members joined in, with signs, more candles, and banners, growing to more than 200 people.

After chants demanding “Justice for Jamar,”, Minister Toya Woodland, an organizer with TCC4J, opened the program with prayer calling for justice. Jamar’s nephews and nieces shared a rap dedicated to him, and then Cassandra Tucker - whose son Isaiah was killed last year by police in Oshkosh, Wisconsin - shared a song dedicated to Jamar’s memory. Jamar’s mother, Irma Burns, spoke, urging the crowd to never give up, and to remain united. TCC4J organizer Angel Smith El closed the vigil with the words of Assata Shakur.

Then the vigil took over both sides of Plymouth Avenue and marched to the Fourth Precinct police station, holding high signs reading, “Prosecute Ringgenberg and Schwarze!” in reference to the two police officers who murdered Jamar Clark, and “Justice Thru Jamar Community Control of MPD Now.”

Someone launched several fireworks over the roof of the cops’ building as the march passed. The protesters then stormed into a neighboring building, where a local city council person was hosting a ward meeting.

Earlier in the week, Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison, son of the career politicians Keith Ellison and Kim Ellison, planned a community meeting for that night. Organizers from TCC4J, community members, and family members of Jamar Clark asked the councilmember to change the date of his meeting, which was the same night as the vigil. They pointed out that it was the murder of Jamar Clark that caused several local politicians to be unseated, due demands made by the local movement against police crimes in exposing negligence of politicians who refuse to hold killer cops accountable.

TCC4J organizers and community members were outraged at how tone deaf Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison was to hold such a bland event just blocks from where Jamar Clark was murdered, on the third anniversary of his death. Minister Toya Woodland, an organizer with TCC4J, led the charge into the meeting in which protesters outnumbered attendees eight to one. Organizers and community members Nekima Levy Armstrong, Sam Martinez, Raeisha Williams, Kim Handy Jones, Angel Smith El, Monique Cullor-Doty and several family members of Jamar Clark held the politicians accountable, while Minister Toya kept the crowd going with chants. The event was broadcast live by Dani VanPelt, a  TCC4J youth member. Link to video: https://www.facebook.com/TCC4J/videos/2142792959370803/

The November 15 vigil was one day in a week of action for #JusticeThuJamar. The demands for the week of justice included: Reopen the case surrounding the murder of Jamar and prosecute Minneapolis Police Department officers Dustin Schwarze and Mark Ringgenberg; stop police terror in our communities – justice for all victims of police violence; Community Control of the Police - actual, community control, not the current rubber-stamp systems that exist; and justice for Travis Jordan, a native Hawaiian killed last week by Minneapolis police.

For more information, see tinyurl.com/tcc4j or Facebook @tcc4j.