News Guide: Unrest After Minneapolis Cop Shot Black Man

20 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Minneapolis mayor takes heat over handling of Clark shooting.

The fatal shooting of a black man by a Minneapolis police officer has prompted unrest in the city as the community demands answers, while authorities say they can’t provide additional details because of the ongoing investigation. The uproar over the fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark is turning into a political crisis for Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, whose handling of the situation put her at odds Thursday with some of the progressive allies who helped propel her into office in 2013.

A day after a marathon standoff between activists and police at the Fourth Precinct in north Minneapolis, the state council of one of Minnesota’s largest labor unions, the SEIU, called on Hodges to “engage directly to de-escalate the current situation brought on by the police.” Activists, some of whom went searching for Hodges at her home Wednesday night, confronted her for not responding to their demands and for allowing police to physically disperse protesters. “You’re supposed to be this different mayor, right? Clark was shot during an apparent struggle with police on Sunday, shortly after officers responded to calls by emergency workers who said the 24 year old was reportedly interfering with their aiding of an assault victim. Authorities aren’t saying exactly what happened shortly after midnight Sunday, but they say their initial investigation shows Clark was a suspect in an assault and was disrupting paramedics who were trying to help the victim. O’Brien also criticized Hodges for requesting patience with an investigation process “designed by people who have historically traumatized us.” The exchange was streamed live on social media. Bob Kroll, faulted Hodges and Police Chief Janeé Harteau, saying they did not support the officers involved in the Clark shooting. “Someone has to stand up for the officer,” Kroll said at a late afternoon news conference Thursday.

Minneapolis — like Baltimore, Cleveland, New York City and Oakland, California, before it — is just the latest American city to become roiled in outrage and protests over the killing of unarmed African-Americans by the police since the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Clark’s death also has exposed political tension at City Hall, punctuated by the presence of five council members alongside activists at the precinct Wednesday night. In the death of Clark, as well as a police shooting in Chicago of teenager Laquan McDonald, attention has focused on law enforcement’s unwillingness to release video documenting the deadly incidents. As with so many of those cases, possibly damning video may prove critical to cooling or ratcheting up tension between the police and the city’s black community. So to that end, I have been working every day to make sure that we have the best situation possible.” Council Member Blong Yang, who represents the North Side, said in an interview that justice requires letting the process play out and gathering all the facts. “My colleagues going out there … and just kind of taking one perspective, I don’t think that helps anybody.” Hodges said some activists will not be satisfied until she calls for a release of tapes that may show the encounter between Clark and the two police officers.

The BCA says investigators have video from several sources, including an ambulance, a mobile police camera stationed in the area, public housing cameras and citizens’ cellphones. Those tapes are now controlled by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. “I am committed to meeting the request for an independent investigation,” Hodges said. “And … doing so requires that I not give any appearance of attempting to influence the process or the outcome of that investigation.” “[We were] really hoping that we would see the side of you that really cares on a human level about this,” Fairbanks said. “And you’re kind of repeating the press conferences.” “By God, I give a damn.

But BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said none of the videos captured the entire incident and none will be released while the investigation is ongoing to avoid possibly tainting it. By God, I’m out there doing the work every single day to the best of my ability,” Hodges said. “Perhaps I don’t show emotion the way people expect a woman to show emotion.” Community members have been protesting since Sunday’s shooting, with hundreds taking to the interstate on Monday night — prompting 42 arrests — and a small group camped out at the local police precinct.

On Wednesday, protests outside of the city police department took a dramatic turn when police attempted to clear protesters from a camp site they’d erected. Keith Ellison, tweeted a photo of his son at the protest scene with his hands up and an officer with a gun in the background, calling it “agonizing for me to see.” Police later reported that several officers sustained minor injuries from rocks and water bottles that were thrown and said several squad cars were damaged. Police said two men were arrested late Thursday on preliminary charges of felony damage to property after profanities were found spray-painted on a precinct building.

As in the case of the shooting in Minneapolis, Chicago police refused to release dashcam video of the killing — which reportedly shows McDonald being shot down and shot again as he lay on the ground dying — because they do not want to compromise an ongoing investigation and grand jury probe into the case. Journalists, Chicago’s law department, an independent police watchdog group, and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan have all either asked for the release of the video or filed Freedom of Information Act requesting its release — but in each instance the police department has refused.

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