UPDATED // Minneapolis Protests Shooting of Jamar Clark by Minneapolis Police

UPDATED // Minneapolis Protests Shooting of Jamar Clark by Minneapolis Police

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What We Know

Jamar Clark, 24, a resident of North Minneapolis was shot in the head by Minneapolis police (MPD) officers on Sunday the 15th at around 1:00am.

Witness and MPD accounts of the incident vary which has fueled protests demanding answers and justice (more on the protests below). Teto Wilson, a local business owner, has been quoted by several news agencies stating that he observed MPD handcuff Clark, slam him into the ground and furthermore insists that he was not resisting. Lisa Neal Delgado, another witness, noted that Clark was on the ground when he was shot, leading many to question how he could have been a threat large enough to be shot in the head.

A main issue cited by protesters and community members is the controversy over whether or not Clark was handcuffed prior to being killed. Video of the shooting would provide much needed context.

Several law enforcement investigations were announced in response to the public outcry. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), a state level law enforcement agency, declared that two weapons were recovered – both belonging to the MPD officers involved. Jamar Clark was unarmed during the incident according to the BCA.

Difficulties with Accurate Information

Speculation and bad information on both sides has lead to difficulties in ascertaining the facts of the case and have promulgated further tensions. MPD fired a 40mm paint round to “mark” a protester they claimed was throwing bricks. It turned out that individual was merely adding wood to a fire at the makeshift camp set up by the protest groups, known as #4thPrecinctShutdown. This added to the backlash against unnecessarily harsh treatment of the demonstration by police and even served as a microcosm for understanding the systematic problems in question – shoot first, ask questions later.

At some point, either as an act of trolling or by mistake, a rumor sprouted online that “Sam Hyde” was responsible for the death of Jamar Clark. I heard this not only online but also from people at the protest. These rumors would have persisted and grown but for the public release of the names of the officers involved – Mike Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, who are now on paid leave.

Several pictures, videos and live broadcasts captured MPD spraying pepper-spray at demonstrators, prodding them through fences, pointing loaded guns at journalists and others. Despite the clearly documented aggression, the Minneapolis Police Twitter account has followed the shameful trend of police departments putting out disinformation in order to denigrate the protesters.

Even prominent WCCO reporter Reg Chapman was indiscriminately pepper-sprayed while being interviewed by our fellow independent media reporter @MrNikoG of Unicorn Riot.

Dramatic video of police aggression:

Twitter users and protesters reacted a bit too quickly in stating that the National Guard had been called in. This is a problem with heated confrontations with police that could be mistaken for a military force. Rumors spread throughout the protest camp and quickly made it to twitter, prompting an official comment from Governor Mark Dayton.

According to WCCO, “BCA investigators have video from several sources, including an ambulance, a mobile police camera in the video, a public housing camera, surveillance video from an Elks Club across the street, and citizens’ cell phones.”

The BCA told WCCO that it could take two to four months for the investigation to run it’s course and that it is their top priority. Releasing whatever videos have been seized for the investigation would help start the painful process of coming to grips with what exactly happened that resulted in the death of Jamar Clark. There are explicit procedures that are followed with these types of investigations, yet an overall goal of the justice system is to provide solace and closure. Two things that a community as grief stricken as Minneapolis deserves.

Minneapolis police and city officials repeatedly stated that there is no squad car dash-cam video or video from body wearable cameras. Minneapolis has received funding and support from the Federal government for implementation of a body-cam program but despite this, neither officers directly involved were equipped with such. Mayor Hodges, during an impromptu meeting with activists today, acknowledged that they are holding at least some video of the incident, more on that below.

Chief Harteau, speaking about body-cams in 2014 told Minnesota Public Radio, “I believe the equipment will provide an added layer of transparency and accountability to the department,” Harteau said. “In addition, this technology will protect our officers from false and frivolous claims, saving money in the process.”

Hypocrisy of a Fair Trial

It is hard for demonstrators I spoke with to understand the seemingly cold procedural methods that are limiting their ability to get answers. The BCA investigation is protecting the officer’s right to a fair trial which is something the Jamar Clark never received. The protesters decry what happened as another extrajudicial street execution adding to the over 1,000 police killings in the United States this year. A street execution that occurred in a city with some of the worst educational and employment disparities in the United States.

Response by Elected City Leadership

Mayor Hodges has come under intense scrutiny following several missteps in her handling of this crisis. After publicly stating that she fully supports the actions of the Chief of Police and the Department as a whole, her office called for a meeting with protest leaders. While that meeting was underway and the protest leadership was away from the camp, MPD raided and removed several protesters who had been occupying the Fourth Precinct building. It is hard for activists to believe that this was not a coordinated deception.

When it comes to understanding the important behind the scenes details that lead the Mayor’s decision making, we may be in for an uphill battle. Mayor Hodges email is through a third-party and off limits to Minnesota Government Data Practices Act requests. It would not be surprising to see a lengthy court battle over such information as her office’s coordination with the MPD in response to the protest.

Activists and community members looked to their representatives in city government for leadership and action. One of the Mayor’s only comments on Twitter about the tragedy and in response to the protest was simply to defend herself.

Activists showed up to the Mayor’s home to question her response to the growing crisis.

This morning, those same activists got their meeting and broadcast it to Periscope. Watch the video below – they confront the Mayor on her mismanagement of the protest including the provocation by MPD towards protesters and community members. Speakers wondered why she hasn’t said much other than to offer support for Minneapolis police and more.

When the questions over the release of video of the shooting were brought up, Mayor Hodges cited the “integrity of the investigation,” as justification for, “[saying] no to demands of the release of video.”

City Councilpersons Alondra Cano, Cam Gordon and Lisa Bender publicly condemned the harsh treatment of protesters and even showed up in person to stand in solidarity with the activists. Cano has been reportedly working towards a “cease-mace” agreement with MPD.

What’s Next?

Communities United Against Police Brutality put out a public call for activists to attend Friday’s City Council meeting at 9:30am. We will continue our coverage and provide live-streaming video of this developing story.

Anonymous has reportedly launched cyber-attacks against the Minneapolis police website although at this time the website appears to be active and unscathed.

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