The four men charged in the shooting of five black protesters at the Fourth Precinct last week made their first appearances in court on Tuesday.
Allen Scarsella, the alleged shooter, has been charged with five counts of second degree assault with a deadly weapon and one charge of armed riot. His buddies Joseph Backman, Nathan Gustavsson, and Daniel Macey were each charged with one count of armed riot.
While the lawyers for Scarsella and Backman begged Judge Hilary Caligiuri for slack on bail, Caligiuri held fast to the half-million she had ordered for Scarsella and the quarter-million she’d set for Backman.
The victims of the Nov. 23 protest shooting are alive and healing from their wounds. Some have returned to the Fourth Precinct to demand release of video footage capturing the police shooting of North Sider Jamar Clark on Nov. 15.
The two-week protest continues despite pleas from Mayor Betsy Hodges and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison for safety, order, and an end to the occupation in north Minneapolis.
On Tuesday afternoon, about 100 protesters crowded outside the Hennepin County court to criticize County Attorney Mike Freeman for not charging the four men with attempted murder.
There are abundant clues on social media, YouTube, and white power and firearm fanaticism web forums to prove that Scarsella, Backman, Gustavsson, and Macey hated black people, Freeman said. However, there wasn't enough evidence to suggest attempted murder charges would have fit the crime, he said.
For protesters, that’s simply not good enough.
“Our elected officials and so-called community leaders have found common ground, not to call for justice for Jamar Clark, but to provide political cover for more violence against peaceful protesters at the Fourth Precinct,” said organizer and pastor Danny Givens. “We have endured a terrorist attack by armed white supremacists, police aggression with mace, less lethal projectiles and batons, and freezing temperatures, and we're not going to be intimated now.”
Protesters are also demanding protection at the Fourth Precinct, and prosecution of Minneapolis officers Dustin Schwarze and Mark Ringgenberg without the involvement of a grand jury.