Black Lives Matter activists and other Minneapolis residents began protesting Sunday and into Monday, blocking the main entrance and occupying the atrium of a north Minneapolis police precinct after a young black man was critically wounded in a police shooting early Sunday morning. The activists told reporters outside the precinct Monday that they won't leave until their demands are met. So, why are people protesting the shooting of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis, and what are their demands?
The protesters claim that Clark, 24, was unarmed and handcuffed when he was shot by police. Police Chief Janeé Harteau said the preliminary investigation shows that he wasn't in handcuffs, but state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) Superintendent Drew Evans confirmed to reporters that there were handcuffs at the scene. Clark was shot when the police responded to a call about him allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. According to the Minneapolis Police Department, a physical altercation took place between Clark and the police when Clark reportedly interfered with paramedics' efforts to treat his girlfriend after the alleged assault. A family member told the Star Tribune Clark was shot "in the head, execution style" and that physicians informed the family he is brain dead. As Clark's father, James Hill, told reporters, "We are just waiting to pull the plug."
The BCA is leading an investigation into the shooting, and two officers were placed on administrative leave.
The activists are demanding that the police release any videos of the shooting, disclose the names of the officers involved, and start a federal investigation. Kandace Montgomery, a Black Lives Matter organizer, explained why they're protesting the shooting in a statement, telling reporters:
Mass media and police want us to believe that Jamar was at fault for this shooting, but we know that’s not true because of the several matching eyewitness accounts that he was executed [as part of] the continued killings of unarmed black people across the country.
Similarly, Jason Sole, chair of the Minneapolis NAACP's criminal justice committee, told Minnesota Public Radio News Sunday: "We have been saying for a significant amount of time that Minneapolis is one bullet away from Ferguson. That bullet was fired last night. We want justice immediately." Along with the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota demanded transparency in the investigation into the shooting.
Officials are asking any witnesses with information or videos of the incident to call the police. Minneapolis was chosen earlier this year to participate in the Justice Department's "Building Community Trust and Justice" grant program to rebuild trust between police and the community.