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Rally demands “Justice for Isak Aden”

By Jess Sundin |
July 18, 2019
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Protest demands justice for Isak Aden.
Protest demands justice for Isak Aden. (Tracy Molm)

Eagan, MN - Some 200 community members gathered here July 16 to demand justice for Isak Aden, a Somali man who was killed by police in this Saint Paul suburb on July 2. Aden was a 23-year-old college student who was killed by police after a four-hour standoff with 90 officers from nine different agencies. Five police officers from the cities of Eagan and Bloomington were named responsible for his death.

Marching behind a 30-foot banner, about 100 protesters took to the streets around the municipal center, which includes the Eagan Police Department and the Eagan City Hall. Then, the crowd poured into the center, past the police department and into the room where a city council meeting was scheduled to take place.

In the meantime, messages were pouring in via text and social media that Eagan police were continuing to block roads, preventing community members from reaching the protest and council meeting. Despite police roadblocks and threats of arrest, more people made their way, swelling protest numbers to 200, and packing the city council chambers.

While the biggest number of protesters were youth from the Somali community, there were Somali community elders, many from the African American community, and white folks and others who have been organizing for years against police murders and brutality. Fifteen organizations, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Minnesota (CAIR-MN), Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB), and Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar (TCC4J) called for the demonstration, which was led by Isak Aden’s sister, Sumaya, and brother, Badrdin.

Because of several last-minute changes to the council’s schedule and agenda, protesters filled the council chambers ahead of the meeting. When councilmembers arrived and stood for the Pledge of Allegiance, protesters took a knee or raised fists in protest.

CAIR-MN director Jaylani Hussein opened the public comments with the family’s demands that Eagan release body camera and dash footage, that the BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) do a thorough investigation, and that Aden’s killers be fired and prosecuted. He demanded that the city of Eagan do the right thing and bring justice to Isak’s family.

Isak’s siblings and Michelle Gross (CUAPB) were the first speakers, followed by more than a dozen friends of Isak, community members and residents of Eagan. They called on Eagan’s city council to support the family demands. Many pointed out that two of the killers, including one from Eagan, have killed before. Others recalled standoffs with racist white mass-murderers where killers have been taken alive into custody. Some criticized Eagan police for trying to intimidate and block protesters standing with the Aden family.

Loretta VanPelt, an organizer with TCC4J, demanded that Isak get the same justice that Justine Damond received; Damond’s family was awarded $20 million in damages from the city of Minneapolis after a cop murdered her in 2017. VanPelt said, “If you truly believed, like you said in the pledge, that justice is for all, then mean it!” TCC4J is working in Minneapolis for community control of the police, which would prioritize ousting violent and corrupt cops, especially those who have killed civilians.

Protesters left the chambers after everyone who wanted to speak had spoken, with chants of “We’ll be back.” Family and community members are determined to hold Eagan accountable, along with the other cities and agencies responsible for the murder of Isak Aden.

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