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Community celebrates opening of Jamar Clark Avenue

By Sam Martinez |
November 18, 2019
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Jamar Clark Avenue.
Jamar Clark Avenue. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Minneapolis, MN - On November 15, the community celebrated a “newly installed” Jamar Clark Avenue street sign on the former corner of Plymouth and James Avenues in North Minneapolis. The renaming was in honor of Jamar Clark, on the night that marked four years since November 15, 2015, when Jamar was shot in the head within 61 seconds of an encounter with Minneapolis Police Department officers Schwarze and Ringgenberg. In the 18 days that followed, community members occupied the 4th Precinct police station in North Minneapolis, demanding justice and calling for the prosecution of the two officers that killed Jamar Clark.

There is a permanent memorial installation by the family and community on the place were Jamar Clark was stolen from his family and community. Before the four-year memorial, Jamar’s family prepared the area and setup food and drink for the community in the garden across the street. The night opened up with the family, community and TCC4J joining chants. Families of those who were murdered by the police, including Toshira Garraway, Taren Vang and Irma Burns spoke. Loretta VanPelt, Angel Smith-El, and Daphne Brown emceed and spoke for TCC4J.

VanPelt said, “This year, TCC4J will enter into its fifth year of fighting for justice, standing with community, for Black liberation, and an end to police terror. Today, we see with the opening of Jamar Clark Avenue that it is the community that will take back our power. We will advance the struggle by fighting for community control of the police! Justice through Jamar!” Brown spoke on the upcoming refounding of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, which will occur on the weekend of November 22 in Chicago, Illinois.

Community and family joined TCC4J in a march to the 4th Precinct police station, which continues to be the seat of police terror in Minneapolis. Together they chanted and shut down the block in front of the 4th Precinct building. Later a Minneapolis police squad car rolled up alongside the ‘justice-mobile’ [marshal car] which was escorting the marchers. An elderly white man in plain clothes also appeared from the shadows, who oddly was wearing what resembled a police badge. He turned out to be retired lieutenant Steve Sizer. Then the police officer - Sergeant Kenneth Tidgwell - got out and began harassing the driver of the justice-mobile and Sizer began harassing protesters. Tidgwell demanded that the driver run over protesters. Tidgwell is known for assaulting demonstrators at the 2015 occupation.

Sergeant Tidgwell then walked over to the crowd and began assaulting an organizer from TCC4J. The community and family came to their aid. The cop yelled “Who is in charge?” The crowd answered back, “Jamar.” The officer responded, “Jamar who? I need to talk to him now!” The crowd responded with “Jamar Clark, pig! And you can’t talk to him because you killed him four years ago!” The protesters then began chanting, “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11, fuck 12!” and moved forward as the Sizer harassed other protesters. The advance by the community caused the officer Tidgwell to flee; Sizer also got into the cop car and they both drove off.

Protesters returned to the memorial sight and celebrated their continued struggle to defend their community, for Black liberation and an end to police terror. As family, community and TCC4J gathered around the newly minted Jamar Clark Avenue sign, light glittered the night sky.

TCC4J, families, and community will continue to organize and fight back against police terror under the demands of: 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 including the families and survivors. Community control of the police – actual, community control, not the current rubber-stamp systems that exist.