On March 16, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced an end to the use of Grand Juries in police homicide cases, as long as he is in office. He also promised to make a decision on the Jamar Clark case by the end of the month. On March 24, Chief Harteau issued a public warning. Her accompanying video footage sent the message: ‘Police cars matter, Black lives don’t. ‘ It was not just odious, but also an assault on public safety.
I wrote this four months ago and never finished it. I offer it as a response to Chief Harteau’s video:
North side resident Jamar Clark was shot in the head by Minneapolis police officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze at 1AM on November 15. At 3pm that afternoon people began standing vigil, first at the place of shooting, and then a few blocks away at the 4th precinct police office. The demonstrators delineated demands from the start: a federal investigation, release of a surveillance video tape, prosecution of the police officers involved.
The Mayor met the demand to call for an federal investigation but refused to budge on the video tape. Protesters then walked up the North Minneapolis entrance to I-94 and took over the freeway. It was a peaceful show of resistance, as all of the other protests have been, ending with the arrest of 42 adults and eight minors, including the President of the NAACP, Nekima Levy Pounds, who knelt on the freeway and told the arresting officer. “I am not afraid.”
Early on the protesters asked the media to leave, saying “we know that you will get this story wrong.” There have been a few good local media stories and several bad ones, especially at the beginning, when only the police version was told. It has been strange to listen to the radio switch from local news – silent on the Jamar Clark case — to the BBC, reporting on the Minneapolis police killing.
On November 18 in the afternoon Mayor Betsy Hodges called for a meeting with Black Lives Matter activists. People left their occupation of the 4th precinct foyer only to have the Minneapolis SAT team dive in and take over, but then an amazing thing happened. People began arriving from all corners to surround the police who had surrounded the building. All night long people held vigil, people coming and going, though freezing rain.
In the evening of the 18th and early into the morning of the 19th the police used mace, pointed guns in people faces and lodged a rubber bullet in one man. State Representative Dehn was there. Council person Cam Gordon had a gun put into his face. Council person Bender saw the cops putting guns in people’s faces and confronted the cops saying if you are going to shoot someone, shoot me….
The superb organizing of Black Lives Matter — including regular messages to thousands who on their phone lists, and the brilliant re-organization of the local NAACP last spring when Nekima Levy-Pounds and a team of women took over — are making things happen here. The diverse female NAACP leadership working in concert, have built a broad and deep base of support in the community, and those connections are coming to fruition. The Mall of America’s eleven month effort to prosecute BLM activists for a December 2014 rally has been a great vehicle for organizing that support. Recently CTUL workers organizing for raise in the minimum wages to $15, came together with Black Lives Matter in a six hour moving picket line.
Now Northside labor, youth, and faith leaders are joining neighborhood people in front of the 4th precinct. The organization of tents, kitchen, fire pits is nothing short of amazing. They’re have been lots of prayers, rants, songs and chants. The most popular: No justice, no peace. Prosecute the Police…..