#Justice4Jamar: Activists Shut Down Major Highway, Demand Release of Video, Mayor Calls for Federal Investigation

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Jamar Clark
Jamar Clark

 

The execution-style shooting death of a reportedly unarmed, handcuffed, 24-year-old Black man by police, has signs of becoming a new Ferguson, as the community demands justice, and city officials seek a federal investigation.

Jamar Clark was shot early Sunday morning following a struggle with police officers, according to the Guardian. Police claim Clark was involved in a domestic dispute, and returned to the scene after assaulting someone minutes earlier, “confronting paramedics and disrupting their ability to render aid” to the victim.

Eyewitnesses claim Clark was unarmed and handcuffed with his arms behind his back when he was shot in the head. From the outset, the police department claimed the man was not restrained. The two officers involved in the incident were placed on paid administrative leave, and their names will not be released until they meet with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

James Hill, Clark’s father, told The Associated Press that his son was shot once over his left eye. Already brain dead when he arrived at the hospital, Clark was removed from life support late last night, according to a Black Lives Matter spokesperson.

“We have been saying for a significant amount of time that Minneapolis is one bullet away from Ferguson,” said Jason Sole, chair of the Minneapolis NAACP’s criminal justice committee, noting many Black North Minneapolis residents are upset. “That bullet was fired last night. We want justice immediately,” he told Minnesota Public Radio News.

On Monday, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said she wrote to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. attorney for Minnesota requesting a federal investigation in the “interest of transparency and community confidence,” as USA Today reported. Mayor Hodges said the city needs “all the tools we have available to us,” even as the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is conducting a criminal investigation. According to the Guardian, Governor Mark Dayton agreed with the mayor’s decision.

“I want to acknowledge that this is a very difficult situation for everyone involved: For members of our community, members of the Minneapolis Police Department and their families, and for the people that are standing here beside me,” said Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau.

Harteau said the officers were not wearing body cameras, but did not speak to the availability of any surveillance or squad car video. However, ColorofChange says the entire event was likely captured by a nearby camera, but that the police refuse to release the footage. Noting #BlackLivesMatter activists have occupied the police station, the organization demands the release of the video and the names of the officers involved.

On Monday night, around 300 protesters blocked traffic and shut down I-94 northbound—51 people were arrested, including a reporter covering the protest.

Minneapolis has previously witnessed tensions between the police and the Black community, with the 2013 death of Terrance Franklin, 22, a burglary suspect shot and killed by police.  Community outrage and a civil lawsuit followed, however, the officers were not indicted.  Last year, civil rights activist Al Flowers complained of being a police brutality victim as officers served a warrant to his relative’s home.  This year, the city was selected to take part in a U.S. Department of Justice program to build trust between communities and law enforcement.

Mario Reed, Clark’s brother, told USA Today that Jamar had been trying to get his life back together.

“He was going to work every day,” Reed said. “I was dropping him off every day. He worked at the car wash in northeast Minneapolis and he was just getting his life back in order.”

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