Minnesota prosecutors have charged four men with felonies for shooting Black Lives Matter activists protesting the death of Jamar Clark, a Minneapolis man who was allegedly killed while handcuffed.
According to Reuters, the men charged are Allen Lawrence Scarsella, 23; Joseph Martin Backman, 27; Nathan Wayne Gustavsson, 21; and Daniel Thomas Macey, 26. The StarTribune reported that Macey is of Asian descent, while the other men are white.
Scarsella, who admitted to shooting five protesters, faces the most serious charges. He has been charged with second-degree riot while armed and five counts of second-degree assault. The other man were charged with second-degree riot. All of the men are currently being held in the Hennepin County jail. Scarsella has a $500,000 bond, while the other men’s bonds are set at $250,000 each.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman defended the charges stating that charging them with hate crimes would not add “one iota of time” to their possible sentences. But added, “The feds have got some different statutes. … My review of this file, including the video and the statements, it certainly has components of [a hate crime.]”
The men are alleged to have showed up at the site of a Black Lives Matter protest, where they got into a scuffle with demonstrators. Scarsella allegedly shot five Black Lives Matter activists, however none of the injuries were life threatening.
Police later conducted a search of Scarsella’s home and turned up a small arsenal of weapons including an AR-15, bolt action rifles, revolvers and ammunition.
Scarsella was also identified as one of two masked men in a YouTube video, who say they are headed to the Black Lives Matter protest to perform a “recon.” According to Thisweek and The Dakota County Tribune, the video also shows Scarsella brandishing a pistol and using profanities and racial slurs.
In spite of the shooting, Black Lives Matter activists remain defiant and have vowed to stay camped in front of the Fourth Precinct police station until an officer is arrested for Clark’s death.
Several people, including the head of the local Urban League chapter, a member of the Clark family and Mayor Betsy Hodges, have urged Black Lives Matter activists to end their protest, which is entering its third week, for safety reasons.
Minneapolis police, with the FBI, are still seeking more suspects in the shooting. The alleged shooters are reported to have met on a weapons-related message board on 4chan, an Internet site which is largely unregulated.