3/30: UnicornRiot is starting live coverage today here. The county attorney is holding a press conference & a rally in Eliot Park is planned later. //
Minneapolis, MN – March 26, 2016
“Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail – the whole damn system is guilty as hell!” ~ chant
The theme of the day, “prosecute the police”, rang loudly in downtown Minneapolis at a rally turned march, organized by Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar (TCC4J). It began with a wide range of speakers, from a multitude of groups and unions, elders, clergy, youth, including families of those murdered by local police (Jamar Clark, Marcus Golden, Phil Quinn, Michael Kirvelay). Around 300 community members listened to the speakers, calling for the prosecution of the police officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, for their execution-style murder of Jamar Clark.
Unicorn Riot was LIVE covering this event that started from the Hennepin County Government Center:
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) March 26, 2016
The Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar (TCC4J) created itself out of the #4thPrecinctShutDown to serve as a “vehicle that was independent and not accountable to grant makers, but to the community” and with one demand: prosecution of Minneapolis police officers Ringgenberg and Schwarze. The group organized a march on December 19th, 2015 and has since staged weekly protests dubbed #FreemanFridays. Through these demonstrations, the community eventually pressured Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman into not using a grand jury to investigate the murder of Jamar Clark by police (which was a demand that was met).
Mel Reeves, an activist, writer, and organizer for TCC4J, spoke early in the rally and said that “we’re here with one demand and that is, prosecution of the police.” He stated that protest works and said “in Baltimore, the prosecutor got up in front of everybody and said ‘I heard you.’ That’s right and what she meant was, ‘we heard the voices of the street demanding justice’ and that’s what we need to do.” He also said, “I expect that we’re going to get justice. I mean it wasn’t like a chicken was killed, or a pig was killed, right? A human being lost their life in the streets of Minneapolis. Jamar Clark was a human being.”
Among the group of speakers was Jamar Clark’s biological father, James Clark. James started his speech (video below) by thanking everybody for coming and showing support for Jamar and his family and community. He then said:
“Jamar was a loving, caring, and sweet-hearted person. He would give you the shirt off his back if he could. What happened to him could happen to anybody. Anytime you have the people that are supposed to serve and protect and going around and not treating the Black people with respect and love and kill them, they should be prosecuted like everyone else that’s out there on the street and doing wrong. We are tired of all this, you know, we want love, respect, and peace, because everyone deserves that. And if these officers cannot be man enough and come forth and tell their mistake that they made in killing my son, then there is no justice for nobody.” – James Clark
Pastor Brian Herron, of Zion Baptist Church (pictured below), passionately spoke to the crowd about staying together and working together no matter the outcome in the future, and he also had this to say:
“My heart is heavy. I am so concerned about the soul of this city, the soul of this state, the soul of this nation. When we continue to heap violence and trauma upon a people and we don’t see anything wrong with it, something’s wrong with that. Something’s wrong with a society and a government that doesn’t see the need to want to treat people with humanity.” – Pastor Brian Herron
Nekima Levy-Pounds, President of the Minneapolis NAACP, spoke (VIDEO BELOW) in front of the hundreds, calling forth members of Jamar Clark’s family, victims of white-supremacist shootings at the 4th Precinct, and any who were arrested on I-94 during the direct action the day after the murder of Jamar Clark, to stand with her. Nekima, who hosted a press conference the day before (that was spurred by Minneapolis Police Chief Harteau releasing a new video), said “Mike Freeman if you do not uphold the law, you will be out of office in 2018. Just as Anita Alvarez is out in Chicago, and just as the prosecutor in Cleveland who mishandled the shooting of Tamir Rice case is out.” Further stating, “it’s time for a paradigm shift” and that:
“We’re not gonna tolerate the status-quo. We need to stop going to the powers that be and begging for crumbs, and we need to become the powers that be.” – Nekima Levy-Pounds
The crowd then heard a reminder (VIDEO BELOW) from the rally’s co-host Michaela Day about the connections between biker gangs, white-supremacy, and the police. Michaela spoke to the crowd about the reality that the Head of the Police Officers Association Lt. Bob Kroll, and many members of the St. Paul and Minneapolis Police force that are involved in City Heat, a motorcycle gang which is documented to have neo-nazi / white-supremacist symbols on their jackets. Michaela said:
“How is it that Minnesota allows this in 2016? Minnesotan’s who aren’t doing something to say that that’s wrong are condoning it with their silence.” – Michaela Day
Ahn Pham (pictured below), representing Asian/Pacific Islanders for Black Lives (#API4BlackLives) and Rad Asians, started her speech talking about Map “Ricky” Kong, a recent victim of a police killing Burnsville. Ahn also stated:
“Asians are not going to be silent on this. We’re standing here with all of you and with Jamar Clark’s family and we are right where we belong. We are NOT the model minority. We are not silent. We are angry and we are frustrated and we will NOT be quiet on this issue…we oppose the racist war right here at home and we refuse to be the wedge-issue that divides our communities. We stand united with Jamar Clark’s family, we stand united with the Black and Brown community and we stand united with the working class here in the United States – until police brutality ends, until justice is served, until Jamar Clark’s family has the answers they deserve. Thank you.” – Ahn Pham
Youth also played an important part in the rally. A student from Southwest High School spoke a few slots after a picture-filled moment of other youth speakers. A youth from Southside Family School called up all the youth in the crowd to come up to join them. The youth spoke of being present at the #4thPrecinctShutDown and organizing a walk-out at their school for Jamar Clark.
Darlene Tariq, the partner of Phil Quinn, who was murdered by the St. Paul police, spoke next. She stated that she still has two bullet holes in her car from when the police murdered Phil, including one of the bullet still lodged in her engine block. She stated that she was “really happy to hear, for the Clark family, that there was going to be no scam-jury process like Phillip had. We got kind of railroaded. It was a really really disgusting experience.” She also read a heart-wrenching poem written from the perspective of her and Phil’s daughter.
After a powerful spoken word piece by Thandisizwe, Robin from $15Now and Socialist Alternative gave a passionate speech linking capitalism and racism (VIDEO BELOW). Robin spoke of an Ella Baker quote of what “radical” means and drew correlations from the ’60’s to present time. Among the many noteworthy statements in her speech she stated:
“As long as the system of racism and capitalism exist, we will always be in the streets demanding justice for the lives of Black and Brown folks taken from our community…it’s time that we use our collective power and strength that we possess to overhaul this system so that we can finally possess the power to strengthen, nurture, and govern our own community.” – Robin
Dee, from the IWW African Peoples’ Caucus and the Twin Cities General Defense Committee, spoke with vigor about coming together to challenge “the capitalistic and racist system” (VIDEO BELOW). Dee said, “we’re gonna fight racism with class solidarity and we’re gonna fight capitalism, not with capitalism but with socialism.” He spoke about the importance of community self-defense and protecting each other. He also stated:
“We’re gathered here at the seat of power to send a clear message. What they won’t tell you is that this actually isn’t the seat of power, because I’m gonna ask you a question, who do you think built that train over there? Who do you think laid the stones of the pavement we are standing on right now? The workers built all of it. Where do the workers stay? They stay in the community. So without the workers, this City Hall, this jail, this big ‘ole phallic symbol right here [points at Government Center] doesn’t exist. It was built from our hands and they know that, that’s why they try to keep you divided. That’s why they try to tell you that kids from the community that fight back against the police are your enemy. Those people are not your enemy. They are the freedom fighters of the next generation. If we do not protect the youth, if we do not protect the next generation of freedom fighters, we are doing them and our next generation an incredible disservice.” – Dee
After the speakers and performers (many not mentioned in here but worth watching), the crowd then marched from the Hennepin County Government Center to the North Loop area of downtown Minneapolis.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) March 26, 2016
The march stopped and speakers gathered on the back of a truck carrying a sound system and microphone at N. 1st St. and N. 2nd Ave. An organizer stated, “we are here because we are standing up to the system and the system is represented by capitalism and we are coming to the top capitalist part of the state. We are here because Mark Dayton’s family owns a whole block where we’re at right now.” This led to chants of “Hey Dayton, you must know, killer cops have got to go.”
Here is the livestream coverage of the march:
Unicorn Riot spoke to co-host and TCC4J organizer Brettina Davis at the conclusion of the day’s events, she stated she thought the event “went well” and they are planning an upcoming “action week“. When asked about Mike Freeman and possible prosecution of the police, she said:
“Hopefully he does the right thing, because we’re out here everyday putting pressure on him. We’re letting him know that we are not leaving the streets. We’re hoping he does the right thing. We’re hoping he goes with prosecution of the police, but if he doesn’t, we’re gonna continue fighting.” – Brettina Davis
We will continue to follow the community of Minneapolis as the Jamar Clark case continues to evolve. It is stated that a result will happen by the end of March.
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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