On Sunday November 15, at 1AM in Minneapolis police shot and killed a young Black man, Jamar Clark.. A protest began at 3pm on November 15 at the site of the shooting. Protesters demanded a release of the surveillance video, federal investigation, and arrest of the officers involved. An occupation of the 4th precinct continues as I write. On the evening of November 16 protestors shut down of I94 freeway for a couple hours, ending with the arrest of 40 activists including Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds. Mayor Hodges requested a federal investigation this afternoon. The video has yet to be released. Witnesses say the man was handcuffed. Police say otherwise. Protesters fear tampering with the video. The occupation of the 4th precinct will continue until the demands are met. Tents have been set up outside the precinct, and a makeshift kitchen. Food and money donations are desired.
The last few days I have laid on my couch overcoming the flu. In my fevered state the stories of suicide bombers in Paris, Beirut and Iraq, and the death of the young man Jamar Clark, killed by a Minneapolis police officer, overlapped. Among the clammer, a speech in my Facebook feed by Angela Davis celebrating historian John Hope Franklin provided startling clarity among the din.
“We need more historically-minded people,” Davis said.
She did not mean people with their heads in the past, but those who see their present lives connected to past unfinished business and a future bearing the fruits of their time on earth. They are not afraid to demand what can’t be achieved in their life time. Cognizant of historical roots of current problems, they envision the future we need and a path to get there.
Davis illustrated what she meant, repeating the goals of her life work: abolition of the prison system and law enforcement as we know it. “Take the guns from the police” she said. She does not believe her demands will happen in her life time, yet she paints for us a future in which security is based on the fulfillment of our needs for health, education, housing…
Events of the last days illustrate the wisdom of Davis’ vision. Law enforcement on November 15 did not provide security for a woman, a man or a neighborhood in North Minneapolis.
Police can’t address unmet human needs for decent jobs, affordable housing and well-funded schools that would provide real security, but our tax dollars redirected can.
On a global level, Davis’ definition of security is as salient. As Mayors and Governors in the U.S. and World Leaders rush to build armies and police forces to “provide security” and invoke America’s ugliest past by barring Syrian refugees they deny the obvious. Violence begets violence. We do not need to look very far back –– 9/11, Iraqi war! — to understand that it will only make our future less secure.