Minneapolis, MN – An advocate for the homeless was brutally arrested just yards from George Floyd’s memorial on December 4, 2020. The advocate, a young Black man named JoJo, said that Minneapolis Police officer Kyle Mader dislocated his shoulder when he violently slammed him to the ground.
Officer Mader proceeded to arrest and charge JoJo with obstruction, though he was released from jail days later with no charges. Two weeks after the encounter, we spoke with JoJo for an exclusive interview at the incident’s location inside George Floyd Square (GFS).
The incident happened after a meeting was finishing outside the old Speedway gas station, reclaimed as The People’s Way during the George Floyd uprising, on 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis. Encompassing four city blocks of a semi-autonomous zone, GFS is a sacred space honoring George Floyd as well as a hub for the people who’ve reclaimed the commons from the state and are holding the space with two dozen demands called the Justice Resolution.
A place where a network of mutual aid initiatives interconnect, organized gatherings and meetings are frequent at GFS, police intrusions are not. Since a few days after Floyd was killed, it has been a rarity for police forces to enter the square, yet they have occasionally, as they did on December 4.
That Friday night, Minneapolis Police chased a suspect into GFS and apprehended him near the newly constructed greenhouse and about 20 yards from where ex-officer Derek Chauvin and his co-defendants killed George Floyd. The crowd in the square, many who recently finished meeting, were unaware why the police came into the space and their presence made the crowd agitated. The police abrasively arrested the man they chased and were threatening others at the scene.
While another officer was arresting the unknown suspect, officer Kyle Mader pushed several people yelling for them to back up before making his way to JoJo and assaulting him. In video first released by On Site Public Media and included in our interview above, Mader can be seen abruptly approaching JoJo before slamming him to the ground, kneeing on his back and arresting him.
JoJo said his shoulder was dislocated as a result of Officer Mader slamming his body to the ground and pulling back on the arm to cuff him. He says he’s regained some motions, but for several days including when he was in jail, it was hard to use his arm. He was initially arrested on a probable cause obstruction charge, which is a common charge police use to arrest people at different scenes. After the 36-hour probable cause hold, JoJo was released with no charges.
“As a Black man in America, it’s not anything new dealing with law enforcement. It’s sad to say that, I don’t accept it, but I’m used to it.“JoJo, homeless advocate assaulted by Minneapolis Police
Officer Kyle Mader, who’s been in the department since 2016, has seven complaints filed against him. Three of those complaints are still open and the other four are closed with no discipline, according to data compiled by non-profit Communities United Against Police Brutality.
Mader has been given a Lifesaving Award and commended by Police Chief Arradondo. After the video of the December 4 incident was published, Kyle Mader was named by the public as the assaulting officer. Since then, dozens of people have left comments on a Facebook post made by Minneapolis Police Department with Arradondo shaking Mader’s hand in June 2019, questioning Mader’s actions on December 4, the complaints against him, and the perceived lack of accountability for wrongdoings.
Punitive action against police officers in Minneapolis is seldom seen. Investigations this summer have found that it’s rare for an officer to be disciplined and that hundreds of complaints go uncounted. Further, a new report by journalists Tony Webster and Max Nesterak, which digs into the disciplinary files of Minneapolis Police officers, illuminates a culture of protecting the worst officers.
“The way they treat us is so inhumane,” said a witness to the violent arrest of JoJo on December 4.
After the arrest, Mader can be heard on the video yelling to bystanders that the reason he arrested him was because he had an “illegal weapon.” JoJo said he had a knife on him that he bought from WalMart, which he sometimes used to help cut wood for the fires during the outdoor meetings. He has not been given any criminal charges after the brutal arrest.
“I did nothing wrong and the fact that they’re [Minneapolis Police] still acting this type of way let’s me know that they haven’t changed at all since the death of George Floyd.“JoJo
The murder of George Floyd by ex-officer Derek Chauvin ignited uprisings throughout the nation and inspired a widespread call to defund the police. The Minneapolis City Council adopted a 2021 budget that some see as a first step in embracing the community’s demands by taking $8 million from the police, yet after Mayor Frey threatened a veto, they kept city plans to hire more officers in the future.
Nearing seven months of community control, George Floyd Square remains as a reminder of why the community says they won’t go back to how it was. GFS is a place of grieving while also being a gathering spot for imagining and creating a better world.
It’s that community, JoJo says, that’s helping to fulfill his life mission, to provide assistance to people who are homeless. He’s part of a team of advocates that have been supporting and housing people living without shelter this year in Minneapolis. He said he doesn’t want this arrest to slow down his team’s ability to help their work.
The Minneapolis Police have not responded to a request for comment on the December 4 incident.
Unicorn Riot's George Floyd Coverage:
- George Floyd Uprising – Reporter Reflection [5 Episode Series] - Fall 2020
- Beyond the Barricades: A Look At George Floyd Square [Mini-Doc] - March 8, 2021
- George Floyd Square Celebrates Malcolm X - March 2, 2021
- Jay Kolls: False Reporting From George Floyd Square to D.C. - January 23, 2021
- Minneapolis Police Violently Assault Man Yards From George Floyd Memorial - December 23, 2020
- Behind the Law Enforcement Response to the George Floyd Uprising – Pt 1: Munitions Delivery - December 3, 2020
- Pawn Shop Owner Faces No Charges in Killing Man, State Blames Protesters - November 8, 2020
- Feds Leverage Civil Disorder Charge Against George Floyd Protester - November 1, 2020
- Minneapolis Protest Art Collection Becomes Largest of its Kind - October 28, 2020
- Chauvin Has 3rd Degree Murder Charge Dropped, 2nd Degree Charges Upheld - October 23, 2020
- Youth Lead March After Ex-Cop Charged in Floyd’s Murder Bailed Out - October 14, 2020
- Ex-Cop Charged in George Floyd Murder Out On $1M Bail - October 7, 2020
- Pretrial Begins: County Attorney Freeman Pulled from George Floyd Police Prosecutions - September 14, 2020
- “No Justice, No Street" – Community Makes Demands, Eviction of George Floyd Memorial Square Delayed - August 17, 2020
- George Floyd Uprising in Minneapolis–Saint Paul — The First Two Weeks - June 14, 2020
- Denver Police Served Temporary Restraining Order Amid Nationwide Protest Repression - June 11, 2020
- Nine Council Members Vow to Disband Minneapolis Police - June 10, 2020
- Rally and March to Defund MPD after George Floyd: Day 12 - June 6, 2020
- George Floyd Memorial Service in Minneapolis - June 4, 2020
- Action at WCCO to End Media Bias Against Victims of Police Violence: Day 9 - June 3, 2020
- Owner Assaulted by Troopers While Protecting His Business - June 2, 2020
- Minneapolis Protests Police Murder of George Floyd: Day 7 - June 1, 2020
- New Footage Reveals Moments Before George Floyd’s Death - May 30, 2020
- Twin Cities Protest Death of George Floyd: Day 3 - May 28, 2020
- Minneapolis Protests Police Murder of George Floyd: Day 2 - May 27, 2020
- Minneapolis Police Murder Handcuffed Man With Neck-Kneel - May 26, 2020