Jamar Clark was shot by Minneapolis Police in the early morning hours of Sunday. Clark, a black Minneapoils resident, was involved in an altercation with police at the intersection of James and Plymouth Avenue in North Minneapolis. Cops were responding to reports of an alleged assault when their engagement with Clark began.
This short list of facts is agreed to by police and the public. What's in dispute is the allegation that Clark was already in handcuffs at the time he was shot. Minneapolis police have denied that claim, but amateur video from the moments after Clark's shooting proves eyewitnesses on the scene are convinced it's true.
As of Monday morning, Clark is said to be on life support. (Earlier reports indicated he had been killed.) The circumstances around his arrest and shooting have already garnered national and international attention, and on Sunday, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau announced that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) would conduct a "thorough, independent investigation" of what took place.
Local racial and social justice advocates are already energized and outraged, as evidenced by a Sunday night rally that took place at the scene of the incident. Speaking to an assembled crowd, Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, prayed that God would "unsettle every spirit of those who control this city, that they will not be able to rest until we get justice."
Strong as that statement might seem, it's actually mild compared to some of the utterances from organizers with Black Lives Matter, who suggested the Clark shooting could be a last straw for black residents of a city with huge racial disparities in incomes, outcomes, and interactions with law enforcement.
In a statement released midday Sunday, BLM recounted stories of black citizens who were cursed, threatened and pepper-sprayed in the tense moments after Clark's shooting.
"Our city is not too far from burning like Baltimore because as the violence, disparities, and erasure people of color grows, so will the people’s rage and desire for justice," said Michael McDowell, an organizer.
That sentiment is closely in line with the angry words from amateur video taken Sunday morning, as a phalanx of police stood watch under the scrutiny of neighborhood residents. The man recording the video calls police "dirty motherfuckers," while others can be heard shouting that Clark had been shot "for no reason." Later, the narrator, who also says Clark had been in handcuffs at the time of the shot, meets calls to "go home" by screaming it was time to "set this shit off, man."
Speaking Monday morning, Levy-Pounds said Hodges and Harteau were quick to react to Sunday's news because the event was "extremely egregious," and needed obvious attention.
"From witness accounts, Jamar Clark was handcuffed and then shot in the head in front of dozens of witnesses," Levy-Pounds says. "Police essentially threw a corpse in the back of an ambulance, and put him on life support at the hospital. They pulled guns on witnesses and sprayed them with mace. They waited 45 minutes before asking people what had happened there. This is one of the worst examples of what we've seen, recently, with the execution of unarmed black men."
Levy-Pounds showed mild appreciation for the unprecedented step of involving the BCA to investigate, but said she and other activists "don't trust Minnesota law enforcement agencies to hold each other accountable," and are calling for FBI involvement in finding the truth of what happened that night.
Meanwhile, city leaders have asked that anyone with information contact the BCA at (651) 793-7000.
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