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As we were pulling into Minneapolis Monday evening, November 16, we got word that 24 year-old Jamar Clark had been taken off of life support. Earlier, Sunday morning, officers were called to the scene of a possible domestic assault when a Minneapolis police officer allegedly shot an unarmed suspect “in the head, execution style” while he was handcuffed, according to eye-witnesses at the scene. There were also reports that the police pushed a gathering crowd of concerned friends and neighbors back, using pepper spray. Cell phone footage shows a group of people upset about the shooting.
Reportedly, an ambulance had already arrived and the suspect, Clark, had allegedly interfered with paramedics handling a patient which according to sources was a victim of Clark's. The officers who arrived at the scene to reacted violently towards Clark. It seems probable that Clark was acting out of line for officers to engage him, what is uncertain is if his actions necessitated being shot in the head while he was unarmed. On Monday night, Clark became one of the over a 1000 to die from police this year. To add to the tensions of the questionable shooting, he was a black man. This continues an ongoing issue of African Americans being killed at the hands of law enforcement.
Since Sunday, witnesses to the shooting and concerned members of the community have gathered, looking for answers and were occupying space at the 4th Police Precinct. Following a Sunday evening listening session with community members, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges spoke at a press conference on Monday, seeking a federal investigation of the shooting.
While this type of occurrence has become all too commonplace in other parts of the U.S., Minnesotans have become accustomed to watching events like this unfold on our social media news-feeds or maybe even, on an old television set. We are not used to seeing it from our own backyards. Around 3 p.m., Monday afternoon, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis posted an announcement that community activists would be occupying the 4th Precinct until their list of demands are met. After reading the group’s list of demands, we were almost shocked by how reasonable they are:
• The community demands to see footage from the incident. There is likely to be video evidence from the surveillance cameras and from dash cams at the scene.
• The community demands an independent, federal investigation. Currently this investigation is being headed by Drew Evans, BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension).
• The community demands that the media to cover eye-witness testimony. Too often, we only hear prepared statements given by police officials.
• The community demands oversight with full disciplinary power. They want to see evidence and be part of the decision making involved in the aftermath of the the investigation. If the officers are guilty, they are to be fired and publicly charged, convicted and sentenced for their crimes.
• Last, the community simply wants officers to live in the community they serve.
The protest on Monday eventually led away from the 4th Precinct at around 7 p.m. and ended up on I-94 and Broadway Avenue in Minneapolis. Traffic was shutdown for over two hours as well over a hundred blocked the highway. Police eventually declared that those who would not leave would be arrested. Many left, but 42 people stayed and were arrested including a FOX news reporter and an alternative media reporter from Unicorn Riot. Unicorn Riot had live footage of the scene. According to Unicorn Riot, “they went for people with cameras first.” There were around a hundred officers who showed to break up the protest and get traffic flowing again. Two buses arrived to take the unlawful protesters to jail and eventually law enforcement started pulling out. The remaining protesters went back to continue their outrage at the 4th Precinct.
As of Wedensday, law enforcement has removed the protesters from the 4th Precinct. Throwing out tents and dimantling fire-pits, food tables and other belongings of the protesters. Officers moved in quickly on foot and in vans to disperse the remaining protesters.
Thus far, besides footage and accounts from eye witnesses of what occured, little other footage has been released pending an investigation be the department as well as the FBI. Approximately 30 witnesses have stated Clark was handcuffed when he was shot. Police have denied that claim and the Police Union has stated that the shooting was justifiable.
For the amount of resources that our society has contributed in effort to maintain peace and order, that it would even be necessary to demand our public officials act in accordance to the wishes of the communities they claim to serve. The public trust has been broken again and again by the abuse of police power all over the nation. At this point, it is nothing short of negligent to fail to make inquiries. While the officers in question are on paid administrative leave, and investigations are being made, we are left with some hard questions to ask ourselves? Why haven’t the videotapes been released yet, if the officers involved have nothing to hide. Do we have a problem with the unjustified use of excessive force by police in our country? If so, is this a new problem or is it more likely that because the public has access to more technology, we hear about this problem more?
Reader staff writer, Paul Whyte, assisted with information and further details on this story.