Jamar Clark (175507)
Credit: Contributed

There was a serious escalation in Minneapolis Monday, Nov. 23, where demonstrators have been protesting the fatal Nov. 15 shooting of Jamar Clark. Five people were shot and wounded near a police precinct where the demonstrators were gathered.

One rumor is that they may have been white supremacists. According to the Minneapolis Police Department, multiple shots were fired and the victims were rushed to hospitals with non-life-threatening wounds.

One Black Lives Matter organizer told reporters that the shooting occurred when they were escorting three masked men from the demonstration because they were acting unruly and suspiciously. When they reached a dark area, according to one account, the men, allegedly white, turned and opened fire on the demonstrators and then fled.

Jamar Clark, 24, was shot in the head during a confrontation with two officers last Sunday. According to the police, Clark was a suspect in an assault and was interfering with paramedics trying to treat the victim of his alleged attack. He was shot during a scuffle with one of the officers.

Those officers, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, both white veterans of the Minneapolis Police Department, were identified last Wednesday. That evening the police removed the campsite erected by protesters.

Much of the tension surrounds the release of the video, which protesters claim show the police’s “execution” of Clark after subduing and handcuffing him. Several eyewitnesses said they saw the entire incident and claim that Clark was not resisting arrest.

“We call Minneapolis a tale of two cities: the best of times if you’re white and worst of times if you’re Black,” Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, told the Associated Press. He was one of 42 people arrested when protesters shut down an interstate highway Monday night.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehensive, which identified the officers, is a state agency and is investigating the shooting.

Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis police union, said via email that Clark was “disarming” the officer and was not handcuffed.

Among the leading protesters disputing the official account are members of Black Lives Matter. They, along with a throng of other demonstrators, have demanded that the BCA release the video. Officials at the BCA said to release the video would “taint” the investigation. It is reported that the FBI has also begun looking at the incident to see if Clark’s civil rights were violated.

Clark was shot and killed on the north side of Minneapolis, where Blacks are the predominant population. Since it has been defined as a high-crime area, the police presence there has increased over the last several years.

“African-American males feel like they are targeted by police because, frankly, they are,” said Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the state’s American Civil Liberties Union. A recent study by the ACLU revealed that Black people are nearly nine times more likely to be arrested for misdemeanors than white people.

Another shooting incident involving a white policeman and a Black youth also pivots on the release of video. Last October, Laquan McDonald, 17, was killed after a police officer shot him 16 times. Since then, reporters and activists have demanded the Chicago Police Department release the dash cam footage of the incident.

Key to the case is whether McDonald was in possession of a small knife and walking away from the police when the shooting occurred. The police contend that the release of the video would impinge on the investigation of the case and prevent a jury from being impartial. Regardless, last week a judge ordered a release of the video, saying that the Police Department’s argument was “inadequate.”

Tuesday it was announced the officer who killed McDonald, Jason Van Dyke, will be charged with first-degree murder.