A crash at a bus shelter in north Minneapolis that left six men injured, three critically, has put a spotlight on lingering racial tensions in the city, the Star Tribune reports. Now, those in the community of Minnesota’s largest city are demanding justice.
On Thursday, members with Black Lives Matter Twin Cities and the Racial Justice Network gathered for a rally at the crash site, where they questioned the integrity of Metro Transit police’s investigation and demanded to know why no charges have been brought against the driver, George Jensen.
The 83-year-old Jensen slammed his van into the bus stop shelter at W. Broadway and Lyndale Avenue on Tuesday after clipping the mirror of a Metro Transit bus twice and then making right turn in front of the bus from the adjacent left lane. Several witnesses rushed to help those wounded after the van accelerated and jumped the curb before barreling into the crowded bus stop.
The impact left the stop in a heap of twisted metal and shards of glass littered the street and sidewalk.
Many at the scene allege the crash was intentional and “racist” in nature. Jenson is white and the six victims are African-American.
“We want to see the truth prevail,” said Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights lawyer who organized Thursday’s press conference and rally. If the collision was deliberate, she said, Jensen “needs to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Many of those who spoke called on police to “do your jobs” and “get justice for the six people who got hit,” according to the Star Tribune. Others were seen holding signs that read “Charge George Jensen Now,” and called for an end to “violence against black bodies.”
Jonetta Watts said her fiancé, Richard Harrison Smith, remains in critical condition after Tuesday’s crash. Watts said Smith was sitting at the bus stop and became pinned under Jensen’s van when he came barreling through.
“I want my justice,” she told the crowd. “I’m disabled and he took care of me. Now I have to take care of him.”
Metro Transit police spokesperson Howie Padilla said the crash remains under investigation and that they soon hope to turn over their findings to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, which will decide whether to charge Jensen.
“We’re going to wait and see, and carry this investigation to its completion,” Padilla told Atlanta Black Star via telephone.
Members of the community remain skeptical, however, especially after police released Jensen from custody Tuesday pending further investigation. The elderly man was briefly detained for questioning and gave no indication the crash was intentional, according to Padilla.
The spokesman initially said Wednesday that officers didn’t conduct a field sobriety test, which angered many and sparked concerns about the department’s ability to carry out the investigation.
The Star Tribune reported that later Thursday Padilla cited supplemental police reports confirming that Jensen was tested at Metro Transit police headquarters and the results showed he had a .00 percent blood alcohol content.
Investigators are still working to determine what caused the bus stop crash and are reviewing surveillance video from the surrounding area.