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Twin Cities activists say ‘No business as usual’ while cops continue to kill

By Loretta VanPelt |
August 19, 2019
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 Kimberly Handy Jones, Monique Cullars Doty, Toshira Garraway and Badrudin Aden
Kimberly Handy Jones, Monique Cullars Doty, Toshira Garraway and Badrudin Aden holding a 30-foot scroll with the names of their family members and hundreds more, all killed by Minnesota police since 2000. (Jennifer Gilreath)

Minneapolis, MN - Twin Cities activists against police crimes have been busy this week with actions: On August 15, Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis gave his address on the city budget. However, activists got wind that Mayor Frey would probably ask for more cops to patrol the streets of Minneapolis, particularly in downtown. This proposal came at the time the city was settling with the family of Jamar Clark, who was killed by Minneapolis police in 2015.

Many showed up to the public meeting, only to be told that there would be enough room for 15 people, and if the so-called invited guests did not show up, then the rest of the public would be able to come in to hear the address. This did not sit well with many activists, who demanded that they be allowed in the chambers and reminded the Mayor’s staff that it was a public meeting and that the public should be allowed in. Staff relented and let people in

Sam Sanchez, a member of Twin Cites Coalition 4 Justice 4 Jamar Clark (TCC4J), entered the room and stated that city officials ought to be ashamed of themselves for barring the public. Many others came in and ripped up the name tags on the chairs and took seats where the saw fit. Others chanted “Who’s city hall? Our city hall.”

The members of the city council then came in and took their seats, and activists then demanded to know why there were limitations to the public being a part of the budget address. Andrea Jenkins, vice president of the city council, then read the rules of the meeting, stating that no public comment was allowed and that people who disrupt will be asked to leave. This only made people angry and resulted in a suspension of the meeting. It was then that Sam Sanchez declared it to be the “People’s Budget Meeting,” and said that there were several groups present that also wanted their demands to be heard.

Sanchez read the TCC4J's demands, stating, “Fire the killer cops; reopen all the cases of murder by police; give the community their [community] center, which is now a police station in the precinct with the most police violence against civilians; $20 million for all families of police crimes - not only the rare case of a murdered wealthy white woman.” The final demand was for community control of the police.

A representative from Racial Justice Network was about to present pictures of a young woman who was brutally beaten by Minneapolis police, when the city council came back in the room and stopped the RJN speaker.

Mayor Frey gave his address, but not without heckling from the crowd. When he talked of “public safety” and more cops on the streets, he tried to speak over the chants of Jamar Clark’s name.

On August 17, activists from Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar, Communities United Against Police Brutality, the Disability Justice Network, and ten families of those killed by police and others held a press conference and action at the state capitol in Saint Paul. The reason: Attorney General Keith Ellison convened a meeting of a working group made up of mostly cops, in an effort to discuss “deadly force encounters.”

This was the first of three meetings that are to take place around the state. This working group has no members of families who have suffered injustice after having loved ones murdered by police; no one from the disability community (some half of police murder victims are people in mental health crises), and no experts from the movement fighting for police accountability. Protesters held up the meeting for hours, with demands that included disbanding the work group. There is no trust that this group can deliver real change, which leaves activists fighting for community control of police.