Update: Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 3:55 EST: The Guardian is reporting that Minneapolis police arrested a second allegedly White supremacist gunman, a 32-year-old “Hispanic” man.
Despite last night’s shooting of five Black protesters by alleged White supremacists wearing masks, Black Lives Matter—Minneapolis (BLM—Minn.) says it will move ahead with the large “Justice4Jamar” march set for 2 p.m. CST today.
Members of BLM—Minn. and other groups have been demonstrating outside of the city’s fourth police precinct for eight days to condemn the police killing of Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old, unarmed Black man. BLM organizers and the Minneapolis NAACP have called on the police department to release video footage of the shooting. Federal and state authorities have resisted, claiming that the video does not show the full extent of the incident and could compromise their investigations.
Five people were non-fatally wounded last night in the shooting by alleged White supremacists. Miski Noor, an organizer with BLM-Minn., told the Star Tribune that the shooting occurred as protesters identified three masked men as members of a White supremacist organization. In response, the group created a safety committee to monitor potential agitators and escort them away from the peaceful protest. Noor said that when demonstrators attempted to get the three men to leave, the men turned around, opened fire and ran away. Minneapolis police said the five people suffered non-life-threatening injuries and they are searching for three White male suspects. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton called the shootings a “cowardly, criminal act” and stated his intent to find and prosecute the suspects.
On its Facebook page BLM-Minn. posted, “We will not be intimidated. Stand with us tomorrow. Students are walking out.” The chapter is also asking for donations for their legal fund, warm food, winter clothing, chairs and firewood.
The University of Minnesota chapter of Students for a Democratic Society appears to have staged a walkout from the school.
Two videos uploaded to Facebook show that White supremacists attended the fourth precinct protests. Three days before the shootings, a local Minneapolis publication reported that White supremacists had threatened BLM activists with a gun.
Last week, Minneapolis police union president Robert Kroll said police need to use more force to clear out a #Justice4Jamar encampment outside the precinct building. “The cops feel like it’s like a local version of Benghazi,” Kroll told WCCO radio. “They are under siege. The mayor has directed the police chief to not help. They need to get their political needs out of it. They need to allow the chief to be a chief and run the department.”
Protesters and police officers have had tense confrontations since last week. A small number of protesters have thrown rocks at police officers while armored officers have sprayed crowds with mace, fired rubber rounds and wielded military-grade rifles. Fifty one people were arrested last week when hundreds of protesters shut down Interstate 94.
The police department’s version of how Clark was fatally shot in the face differs sharply from that of witnesses, who say Clark was shot while restrained. Some claim he was in handcuffs, while others say officers were sitting on his back. Police union officials and Frederic Bruno, the lawyer representing one of the officers, claim that Clark attempted to seize control of an officer’s firearm and was never handcuffed.
Minneapolis resident Everett Spicer, who said he saw Clark in cuffs, dismissed Bruno’s statement on CNN. ”How [is] he going for a gun in handcuffs behind his back? Do you think I could see a gun back here?” he said as he placed his hands behind his back as if being cuffed.
There are a number of hashtags related to the Clark shooting circulating on social media. BLM-Minn. is using #Justice4Jamar and #4thPrecinctShutdown. On Twitter, the hashtags #JusticeForJamarClark and #JusticeForJamar are being used in concert with #4thPrecinctShutdown.
BLM—Minneapolis is planning to hold a “Blacksgiving” potluck dinner for community members outside the fourth precinct on Thursday.
Waleed Shahid is Philadelphia-based writer and the political director of Pennsylvania Working Families Party. He is a movement-building trainer with Momentum, tweets at @waleed2go and is a regular contributor to Colorlines.
Correction: In a previous version, due to a mistake in editing, this post described the five people injured by alleged White supremacists as Black. We have not confirmed that they are all Black, just that they were attendees of a protest led by Black Lives Matter—Minnesota outside of the city’s 4th police precinct.