MINNEAPOLIS - A coalition of activists and neighborhood groups is demanding answers and transparency in the investigation of the fatal police shooting of north side resident Jamar Clark.
Acting Minneapolis Urban League President and CEO Steve Belton says there is a disconnect in two narratives surrounding Clark's death early Sunday morning: One, he says, is being pushed by Minneapolis Police and investigators. Belton says that narrative has changed as days have passed, while he maintains the story being told by neighborhood residents has been consistent. Belton asserts that witnesses have reported that Clark did not resist, was unarmed, and restrained in handcuffs at the time of his altercation with the two officers that led to the fatal shooting.
"The convergence of these two narratives demands a response, an official response," Belton stated forcefully at a press conference Wednesday morning.
The response Belton and the coalition want includes a laundry list of demands.
- A meeting with the U.S. Department of Justice, as they assert that the feds abandoned a mediation process between residents and Minneapolis Police that was ordered in the wake of racial complaints against the department.
- The release of the names of the two officers involved in the fatal shooting of Clark. Those names, Officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, were released by the BCA while the press conference was going on.
- The release of all videotape of the incident in BCA possession so residents can decide what happened for themselves.
- A call for investigators to stop releasing information in "piecemeal" fashion. Belton alleges that Minneapolis Police and the BCA have been releasing bits and pieces to support the department and its officers.
Veteran activist Spike Moss spoke fervently about his frustration that after what he described as 54 years of fighting for equality in the community that young black men are still dying in confrontations with authorities. "They're still the jury, judge and executioner," he said describing Minneapolis Police officers, "shooting us in the street."
"The same thing you found in Ferguson, you're going to find in Minneapolis, Minnesota," Moss said, referring to the fatal officer-involved shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown at the hands of police. He vowed that his fight, and the fight of the black community will continue. "I'm gonna stand up right now, I'm gonna fight back right now," Moss shouted.
Clark's sister Javille Burns wanted to dispel what she described as misconceptions about her brother as a criminal. She spoke of Jamar as generous, giving, a man who would routinely hand out dollar bills to neighborhood kids so they could buy candy at the store. She says he was a decent person, whose life... and death... will not be forgotten. "He will not die in vain, his voice will be heard across the country," she insisted.
Burns also cited the need for forgiveness, saying she does not hate the officers who ended his life. "I don't hate you," she said in a message to the two Minneapolis officers. "I hate what happened to my brother. We don't want revenge, we want justice."