Minneapolis protests outside police station nearing a week; activists want …

22 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Minneapolis Protesters Vow to Stay Outside Police Station.

MINNEAPOLIS — An encampment of protesters outside a Minneapolis police station vowed Saturday to maintain their vigil over the death of a black man who was shot by police, saying they won’t move until video recordings of the encounter are released and authorities change how they interact with communities they serve. Tents, fire pits and stools have been set up outside the Fourth Precinct, in the heart of a predominantly black section of the city and just blocks from where Jamar Clark was shot early Sunday after police responded to an assault complaint. Nekima Levy-Pounds, 39, who led a youthful takeover of the Minneapolis NAACP this spring, has emerged as a leading face of the local Black Lives Matter movement and been at the forefront of demonstrations alleging excessive police force against African-Americans across the country, but most recently Jamar Clark in Minneapolis on Nov. 15. “I don’t mind being an outside agitator,” the University of St. Attorney Andy Luger; the assistant attorney general for civil rights, Vanita Gupta; and the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis office, Richard Thornton. Her approach, more reminiscent of the 1960s than the quieter strategy recently preferred by older civil rights leaders, is lauded by many in the community, though she has her detractors.

They say release of any information, including any video, would be “extremely detrimental” to the independent investigation that the Justice Department and FBI are conducting into whether Clark’s death violated any federal laws. Mark Dayton met with Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, national and local leaders of the NAACP, the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, and other officials to discuss the shooting and the protests that have followed. Dayton said the meeting was constructive and officials talked about steps they could take, such as community policing, to prevent a similar tragedy in the future. “I take this very, very seriously.

Asked for his reaction to the protests, Dayton said: “The No. 1 priority is peace.” He asked those who are grieving to behave in ways that don’t cause damage to people’s lives and safety. “I just pray that we will be able to get through this terrible, terrible time, all of us together, in a way that only strengthens or overall Minnesota community,” he said. Speakers called generally for unity and justice and praised neighborhood residents for maintaining peace. “I’d like to acknowledge our block brothers” for passing out hand warmers, stoking bonfires fires and keeping things calm, Pastor Brian C. Levy-Pounds, who is also a preacher, said the roots of her activism go back to her childhood amid the poverty of south-central Los Angeles, where she decided to become a lawyer. Minneapolis Police Department Officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze were involved in the shooting, but it’s not clear who fired the fatal shot. Her future became even clearer in 1991 after a black friend, 15-year-old Latasha Harlins, was shot and killed by a grocer who witnesses said accused the girl of trying to shoplift a bottle of orange juice.

It happened shortly after the videotaped police beating of Rodney King, and it upset Levy-Pounds that the shopkeeper only got probation. “She got news of that, how the store owner got off with a slap on the wrist. Protesters want authorities to release video footage of the deadly confrontation, and say they don’t believe police statements that Clark reached for an officer’s gun.

That really just hit home for her,” said her mother, Vera Davis. “She felt there was no justice in the situation.” Dane Smith, president of Growth and Justice, a research group that advocates for reducing economic and racial inequality, invited Levy-Pounds to join his board because he considers her Minnesota’s leading voice for racial equity. “It struck me that she had this rare combination of passion and intellect. You will be held accountable for what you have done to our community.” Gross and others were speaking out about the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark. The activists were advised that the public is welcome to attend City Council meetings, but rules require those in attendance to refrain from disruptions.

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