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Jamar Clark remembered by loved ones as a community unites to demand justice

By Jess Sundin |
November 18, 2015
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Minneapolis, MN - More than 100 people filed into New Salem Missionary Baptist Church for a community meeting to respond to the police murder of 24-year-old Jamar Clark in North Minneapolis. Pastor Jerry McAfee was joined by some 20 other pastors, imams and other community leaders to give comfort to Clark’s family, and unite the community in calling for justice.

After several songs and prayers, longtime community leader Spike Moss took the stage. “Minnesota was Ferguson, before Ferguson. Minnesota suppressed the news, so the word wouldn’t know.” He continued, “This is the only city and state where police have been found innocent in every case.” And of police killings, “Down South they used to have lynchings. No judge, no jury, just an executioner with a rope. Now, in 2015, there’s no rope, there’s a gun. No judge, no jury, and one executioner.”

Of Clark’s case, Moss said, “Don’t get involved in, ‘did he or didn’t he have handcuffs on.’ Murder is murder. They’re not supposed to execute him in the street. If he did a crime, he was supposed to go to court, and you should have taken him there. Not executed him!”

Moss praised Black Lives Matter Minneapolis for the actions it was leading on the streets, and spoke of the need to bring concrete demands to the stage legislature. He then led the crowd in chanting, “I’m gonna stand up right now! I’m gonna fight back right now!”

Moss then introduced Michelle Gross of Communities United Against Police Brutality, which had helped to organize the meeting. “We are not just demanding justice for Jamar, we are going to work for it,” said Gross. “We have to channel our anger and grief into something to win justice, so this never happens again.”

The front pews at the church were filled with some 20 family members, and at this point several took the stage. The first was Clark’s sister who shared the last message he had posted on Facebook. Clark wrote of a feeling that his time was running out, but being certain that his life had a purpose. She urged everyone present to give his life have that greater purpose by demanding justice for Jamar, and bringing about an end to racist police killings.

Another of Clark’s sisters said the last time she spoke to her brother, she had told him to take off his shirt and wash it. “He said, ‘No, I won’t take it off, because I matter!’” She then lifted her own sweatshirt, showing all present a dark blue t-shirt printed with the words, “I matter” printed in white.

Clark’s father and mother each spoke as well. Like his sisters, they described a young man with a big smile, and a generous heart, who was dearly loved by his family.