Activists in an encampment kept up their presence Monday by blocking the main entrance to the Police Department’s precinct headquarters in north Minneapolis and occupying the atrium in the wake of police shooting and critically wounding a man over the weekend.
The activists have alleged that 24-year-old Jamar Clark, who is black, was unarmed and handcuffed when he was shot early Sunday on the street in the 1600 block of Plymouth Avenue N. during a struggle with police.
Police Chief Janeé Harteau has said her department’s “preliminary” finding is that Clark was not cuffed by officers who were responding to a report that Clark was assaulting his girlfriend. The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is leading the shooting investigation.
The last word from police was that Clark was being treated at Hennepin County Medical Center. They have yet to disclose his condition. Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, countered that Clark had been “shot and killed” by police.
Clark’s relatives gathered Sunday at HCMC, where a physician told them that their loved one was brain dead. Clark was shot “in the head, execution style,” a family member said.
Kandace Montgomery, a Black Lives Matter organizer, told reporters outside the precinct headquarters Monday morning that protesters have been in the atrium since midafternoon Sunday and will remain until their demands are met: release by police of any video that might exist of the shooting, disclosure of the names of the officers involved, and the start of a federal investigation into the shooting.
The activists have pitched tents at the Fourth Precinct entrance and draped a Black Lives Matter banner above the locked doors. The shooting occured a few blocks to the east of the protest site.
“Mass media and police want us to believe that Jamar was at fault for this shooting,” Montgomery said in a statement earlier Monday, “but we know that’s not true because of the several matching eyewitness accounts that he was executed [as part of] the continued killings of unarmed black people across the country.”
Clark’s father, James Hill, spoke to the news media and said, “My son wasn’t a bad kid. … The police don’t care, the mayor don’t care, the police [chief] don’t care because they’re going to cover up for each other. My son’s got to get a stand somewhere, and I’m here to give him a stand.”
Hill said that his son’s “brain is dead. We are just waiting to pull the plug.”
Bettie Smith, whose 24-year-old son, Quincy, died in 2008 during a police arrest in Minneapolis, expressed her frustration with the actions of the officers in Clark’s shooting and with the explanations so far from police about the circumstances surrounding the confrontation.
“That is the worst call you can possibly get, that your child is murdered,” Smith said. “[The police] know your child is dead when they took him to the hospital. … But they are covering it up.”
She went on to say that “the police need to be held accountable for murdering our children. None of our children deserve to be shot and killed and talked about like they’re some kind of animals.”
John Martin, a North Side activist, took to the podium after the parents and said, “We’re going to stay here until we find out what happened.”
Clark was shot during a struggle with an officer, according to police, who added that the suspect had been interfering with efforts by emergency responders to treat his girlfriend following the alleged assault outside an apartment building about 12:45 a.m.
Two officers have been placed on standard administrative leave following the incident.
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Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482