Four months after 24-year-old Jamar Clark was shot and killed, the investigation into his death has resulted in a decision not to charge the Minneapolis police officers involved.
As initial shock and distress spread within the community of activists who have been following the Clark case since the fall, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis organized a rally and protest of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman in response.
Several hundred protesters eventually took to the streets Wednesday evening. Though they chanted, sang, and danced from north Minneapolis to downtown and back, spirits were markedly heavy.
Contrary to Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau’s fears that a non-indictment might fuel violence and vandalism in the streets, the protesters were entirely peaceful. Police on bikes cleared roads several blocks ahead of protesters as they’ve always done in past, but made extra effort to discreetly stay their distance. There were almost no hecklers.
Family and neighbors of Clark began to gather at the scene of the November shooting in north Minneapolis almost immediately after Freeman’s announcement.
As the crowd slowly thickened throughout the day, protesters started to spread into the street as if preparing to shut down the 1600 block of Plymouth Avenue North. Dozens of riot police arrived wearing helmets and carrying batons to prevent another occupation, but backed down without a clash.
Around 6 p.m., crowds amassed at Elliot Park. At the same time, about 50 protesters set off from north Minneapolis toward downtown. Eventually, the two fronts joined forces in front of the darkened doors of the Hennepin County Government Center.
Protesters crowded onto the stairs in front of the building and spread out across the plaza as speakers vowed to keep fighting for “Justice for Jamar.”
As night fell, most people dispersed with the conclusion of the program at the Hennepin County Government Center, but a remaining 200 protesters walked back up to the Fourth Precinct police station in north Minneapolis.
There, protesters had lit candles around a memorial marking the place where Clark was shot. They blasted music and chants on megaphones, barricaded the front doors of the police station with trash cans, and one group set an American flag on fire.
By midnight, all activity had died down, with Clark’s family members encouraging supporters to go home peacefully.