Leaders call for end to protests, group says they won't go

4th precinct protest to be evicted?

MINNEAPOLIS - Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Rep. Keith Ellison had a clear and direct message Monday morning to the protesters who have been camped out at the Fourth Precinct for the last two weeks -- put an end to this, immediately.

Hodges cited safety concerns while calling for an end to the occupation of the Fourth Precinct. She noted the work that's been done with the community -- before the protests began on Nov. 15 and the work that is continuing.

She went on to say the city has met all the demands the group has made -- even as they continue to be posed.

A federal investigation was launched into the death of 24-year-old Jamar Clark, who was shot and killed by police, the identities of the officers involved in the shooting were released, grief counseling was made available to witnesses of the shooting and an investigation has been called into any civil rights issues that may have occurred.

"Many people have done a great deal to be responsive to the requests and the demands that are on the table," she said. "Even so, we know there's more to be done."

Hodges said she does not have a deadline for protesters to leave.

Steven Belton, of the Minneapolis Urban League, said he supports the right to protest but the occupation is hurting the community.

"The occupation has to end," he said. "You're hurting the community. So we're asking them to step back, to regroup, to pause and take yes for an answer. You've had a bunch of yeses."

Ellison, who previously spoke at the protests -- calling for change after a photo surfaced of police with guns drawn at his son peacefully protesting at the Fourth Precinct, echoed Hodges' sentiments and called for the occupation to end.

Ellison said when the protests began, it was healthy and constructive but then five people were shot (on Nov. 23), Clark was laid to rest and his family called for peace. He said his office has taken calls from concerned neighbors near the Fourth Precinct, as well -- regarding safety, concerns over whether EMS vehicles could get through if needed and for the air quality due to the constant fires of protesters.

"The unattended effects are numerous," Ellison said. "So while I say your goal, I believe is legitimate, justice for Jamar, which in my opinion means a fair, independent investigation, the byproduct of that goal are having very negative impacts on people in the neighborhood."

He said this is his neighborhood -- a place where his four children were raised, where he currently lives and where his law office was located, down the block.

"My plea is this, I do not want to see Minneapolis Police move the encampment out but what alternative do we have, if the protesters will not voluntarily move?" he said.

Ellison said the concern for protesters should be what happens next with the investigation -- and that won't be decided at the Fourth Precinct.

Despite the call for protesters to disperse, the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP took to their twitter account, saying they will not move and called for others to join them.

In a press conference at the Fourth Precinct, members of the local NAACP and Black Lives Matter stood firm in their fight to continue to seek justice for Jamar Clark and all victims of police brutality.

Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of NAACP Minneapolis, said they stand in solidarity with the community and will not leave until justice is served.

"It really is frustrating to have the mayor of Minneapolis stand with so-called established black leadership in calling for an end to this occupation and putting the focus on the wrong things," she said.

Levy-Pounds said they refuse to allow the black leadership in the community be divided.

Members of Black Lives Matter say they will continue to stay at the Fourth Precinct because "their demands have not yet been met" -- demands such as the immediate release of the video that documents Jamar Clark's death, direct prosecution of the officers involved in Clark's shooting and a community protection plan that bars retaliation of police against protesters.


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