Community Responds to Jamar Clark Decision

Minneapolis, MN – On the morning of March 30th, Hennepin Co. Attorney Mike Freeman announced that the evidence against officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, for their execution-style murder of Jamar Clark was insufficient to press charges. Community members who have been engaging the prosecutor’s office for months were outraged as Freeman claimed Clark expressed a wish for ‘suicide by cop’ moments before they ended his life, which no civilian witnesses reported.

Unicorn Riot was on site at the Government Center reporting LIVE.

Here is a brief snippet of the press conference and the immediate reactions and questioning by community leaders inside the Hennepin County Government Center:

We livestreamed the press conference from the 20th floor of the Government Center:

Following the decision, the community surrounded Jamar Clark’s vigil site and a shutdown of Plymouth Ave. was started by about a dozen people who blocked the roads with random items, including a table.

Immediately, police in riot gear poured out of their vans in a parking lot next to the 4th precinct building and proceeded to march themselves down Plymouth Avenue before stopping a couple blocks away from the Jamar Clark’s vigil site, turning around and going back to their riot vans.

Community members continued to gather at James and Plymouth throughout the afternoon. Elders, pastors, and others put forth a large effort to re-direct the energy in the neighborhood by inserting themselves in circles that were forming throughout the neighborhood.

We caught up with Tyris, a neighborhood resident, who spoke about his reaction to the hearing, the police actions of the day and night before, Cub Foods closing down to let employees grieve, and more:

During a rally at the vigil site, Jamar Clark’s cousin and father spoke to the crowd:

After the short rally, around 5:30 pm, about half of the community that was congregated at the vigil site took off down Plymouth Ave. on a march heading to the Hennepin County Government Center.

Meanwhile, on the southside of downtown, another march started around 6pm at Elliot Park at the Hennepin County Government Center.

To cover both of the actions Unicorn Riot organized two video teams with feeds:

Stream 1:

Stream 2:

The protests converged at the Government Center, where a rally and healing space took place. People gathered, talked, hugged, and listened to the speakers. Video of the rally is accessible in both of those streams above.

After the rally at the Government Center, a couple hundred people marched back to the vigil site at James Ave. and Plymouth Ave. The march delayed light rail service for the second time in the evening. Both times, on the march into downtown from the north-side and on the march back to the north-side seemingly delayed services for over thirty minutes.

As we headed to the north-side, we interviewed Stacey and Adja about their thoughts on the events transpiring around Jamar Clark’s case:

Upon reaching Jamar Clark’s vigil site, some of the community listened to music, danced, cried, and held space on Plymouth Avenue.

Being in highly emotional situations as the community was dealing with, a lot of people were discussing their differing views on how to approach protesting the injustices they are trying to correct. Some disagreements occurred throughout the night over the language that people were using, with “re-directers” asking people to stop yelling profanity. The same goes for masks, as some of those who were masked up, were implored to de-mask, with some of those in the crowd even accosting masked up others who had been around daily during the 18 day occupation of the precinct.

None of this is unusual, these situations have been observed happening more than a couple times during the #4thPrecinctShutDown. The mask situation is one that is tactic related but also after masked up white-supremacists shot 5 protestors at the precinct, it became a triggering point for a lot of people in the community. Since November, some of the community has voiced that their anger was “invalidated” by others approach towards them, and yesterday the family of Jamar Clark and the community once again voiced their disagreements with the singing and dancing that was happening in front of the vigil site.

After amassing at the site, a large group marched back to the 4th precinct where they confronted two lone officers and burnt a few flags.

Clark was 24 years old at the time of his death by police hands. Living in the North Minneapolis community, which is predominantly an African American community, young men of color frequently experience harassment by officers who do not live in the district they police. He was suing the 4th precinct at the time of his death. [This is discussed at 1:20:40 on the livestream video “Jamar Clark Announcement Press Conference“]

Mel Reeves speaks about his thoughts on the Mike Freeman hearing and the future:

County Attorney Mike Freeman stated that Dustin Schwarze fired his gun at Jamar Clark’s face once but it did not fire, so Schwarze cocked his firearm and shot again. This shows deliberate decision ended Clark’s life, as the officer had time to choose to shoot Jamar in a non-lethal area or not shoot him at all. [See interview at 8:00 of “The fact that he put the gun to man’s [Jamar’s] face…” Tyris“]

“[He] shot him where he knew he was going to die.”

All of the documents that have been released are here. We will continue to look into them as well the many inconsistencies in the reports, some of which are featured in tweets below:

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For more of our reports on the protests surrounding the death of Jamar Clark, here are the links:
Police Precinct Occupied after Jamar Clark is ‘Executed’ while Handcuffed
#Justice4Jamar Camp Expands; Minneapolis Residents Block I-94; Unicorn Riot Reporter & 40+ Others Arrested
Minneapolis Police Try to Crush #Justice4Jamar Camp; Community Resists
White Supremacists Shoot Five Protesters and MPD Attacks #Justice4Jamar Crowd
“Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes”: White Supremacists Arrested for Shootings
#Justice4Jamar Assailants Net Minor Charges; Camp Braces for Police Action
8 Arrests Made as #4thPrecinctShutDown Eradicated in Early Morning Raid
#BlongNBetsysFortress: Minneapolis Residents Show Up to Defeat $605K Payday for 4th Pct
Hundreds March Miles in Frigid Temp for #Justice4Jamar
#BlackXMas2 Shuts Down Mall of America, Light Rail & Both MSP Terminals
Protestors File Lawsuit Against MPD for Excessive Force
Broken Hearts Rally
Hennepin County Attorney Says Jamar Clark Case Set for Grand Jury
#FreemanFridays – New Witness Statement Released
Hiding Hate Crimes: Prosecutor Goes Easy on Attempted Murderers
#Justice4Jamar: Mpls Community Braces for Worst Case Scenario as Decision Looms