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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Protests Surge After Police Shooting in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS (CN) - Protesters rallied outside police headquarters Tuesday in reaction to the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old black man who was unarmed when shot in the head by officers.

Police said the incident started as the response to a reported assault in north Minneapolis at around 12:45 a.m. Sunday. Officers arrived to find a man interfering with paramedics helping the victim, police said, as quoted in previous news reports.

Clark was "not in handcuffs," and an altercation erupted as officers tried to calm him, police said in a statement. "At some point during the struggle, an officer discharged his weapon, striking the suspect," the statement continues, referring to Clark, as quoted in the Star Tribune.

Witnesses have disputed this, however, saying Clark was handcuffed when police shot and killed him.

Drew Evans, the superintendent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, told Minnesota Public Radio that investigators have obtained "several videos" of Clark's shooting, but that none "captured the incident in its entirety."

No cameras from police squad cars or body cameras captured the incident either, Evans said.

The footage was at the forefront of protesters' minds Tuesday outside the Minneapolis Police Department's 4th Precinct.

"We want the videos released, we want the federal investigation to begin, we want the officer names, and we want the real narrative to get out," Jason Sole, chair of the Minneapolis NAACP's criminal-justice reform committee, said in an interview. "We want justice, and we want justice for Jamar" said Sole.

With the weather cold and rainy, protesters huddled under canopy tents and umbrellas. Camping tents were scattered about the front lawn of the police station while smoke from a bonfire pit filled the air.

James Clark, 68, sat nearby in a warm pickup truck.

"He was a good kid," Clark said of the boy he adopted as a baby. "He would clown around a lot and made us laugh. He wasn't a kid that was burglarizing and shooting people. He didn't belong to a gang. ... He was a good kid."

Distrustful of the police department's story, Clark said his son "was no gang member, and he was handcuffed at the time that the officers took him down and did what they did."

Remembering a son who loved football and had dreams of becoming a mechanic, Clark said "things went bad" for the boy as he got older.

"But he was still a good kid," the father added, his car engine still running.

Before the shooting, the Clarks met for the last time two weeks ago on Lowry Avenue.

Clark said he saw his son there often. "I would always pull over and see how he was doing. He would come over to the house, take a bath, and change his clothes. My wife would wash his clothes and he would eat and stay all night. He wasn't the kind of kid that hung out all night long and doing all those things that they claim he did."

The rally Tuesday outside the precinct followed unrest as news of Clark's death spread. On Sunday, protesters gathered at the scene of the shooting - the 1600 block of Plymouth Avenue North - and marched several blocks down to the police station.

By 7 that evening, several hundred protesters blocked the westbound lanes of Interstate 94. MPR reported that the Sunday protest shut down I-94 and ended with 42 arrests.

Standing outside the Mass Appeal Barber Shop across the street from the police station Tuesday, William Douglas, 48, said he heard "several shots" the other night.

"There have been killings all summer," said Douglas, who has worked at the barber shop the last four years and lives a block away.

"And I understand why people gather around and say black lives matter, but all lives really matter," Douglas added. "It's just a matter of how lives are being taken. It's unnecessary. I understand [Black Lives Matter Minneapolis] wants justice. Everybody wants justice. But don't let this be the time to get come together because killings have been happening all summer."

Douglas said he supports the nonprofit organization, Center on Youth, which focuses on the prevention of killings and educating youth about their legal rights and how to talk with police.

Clark's death "could have maybe been prevented," Douglas said.

"What provoked the aggressive force?" he asked. "I can blame the cop for killing him but ... [the] dude probably was scared and probably scared for his life. Look at the neighborhood he's in."

Evans, with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, said the officers who shot Clark are on paid administrative leave. Their names will not be released until the investigation interviews have been completed, Evans said.

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