Day 16 of #4thPrecinctShutdown: Still strong in Minneapolis

Use extreme caution sign

The day after Mayor Betsy Hodges, Congressmember Keith Ellison, City Council members Barbara Johnson and Blong Yang, and an assorted group of “community leaders” called for an end to the protest on Plymouth Avenue, the protesters are staying strong.

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis leader Miski Noor told the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder:

“If Mayor Hodges is really worried about safety, and really cares about the safety of our community, they would be working with the community, and see what the community needs, and keep us safe from police brutality. They actually would be down here with us rather than telling us to leave.”

Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima Levy-Pounds said that the people have declared they are going to stay, and that:

“Everybody that stood with Mayor Hodges is not part of the solution, they’re part of the problem. That’s not the Minneapolis NAACP saying that. That’s Nekima Levy-Pounds saying that as an individual, because I accept whatever consequences come with me speaking the truth because the truth shall set us free.”

Though the mayor pulled together a long list of older political leadership, the protesters also have a broad spectrum of supporters. The St. Cloud Times editorialized:

“Honestly, claiming it’s unsafe but then citing issues like neighbors are bothered by everything from campfire smoke to crowds (or that snowplowing will be needed) makes for a pretty weak case. Perhaps that’s why Hodges, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and others talked Monday about only having protesters move elsewhere. …

“In fact, if Hodges and her peers really want them to disband, perhaps the mayor should work harder to provide them tangible answers to their initial request: Release video surveillance that may show some of what happened involving Clark.”

Release of the videotapes remains as a key unmet demand of protesters. County Attorney Michael Freeman has decided to send the case to a grand jury. Citing the dismal statistics showing that grand juries almost never indict police officers, protesters demand that he reverse this decision and file charges against the officer who shot and killed Jamar Clark.

Bob Collins wrote in MPR’s News Cut blog:

“But the protesters knew all their demands hadn’t been met. The case will still be presented to the grand jury where, they say, police-killing cases go to die. And their demand to see the video of the killing released to the public has also not been met.

“Those are two pretty big demands that pale in comparison to Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’ contention that the protest is also contributing to air pollution. There are thousands of snowblowers firing up today that spew air pollution and it’s safe to say nobody is asking people to stop.”

Wintana Melekin of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change summed up the top ten things she’s thinking about at this point in a Facebook post. Here are the first three:

  1. [I] personally think we should occupy every space. Police station, electeds homes, capitol, city hall & ect.
  2. Everyone should be uncomfortable until justice is served.
  3. I also think we should be organizing new candidates to run, develop community policing model & a million other things but there are limited people & resources

And an update: A week after white supremacists shot five protesters, the county attorney filed charge against four men. One, alleged to be the shooter, was charged with rioting while armed with a dangerous weapon and with five counts of assault. The three others were charged with rioting. The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder reported that Miski Noor “said she felt the four men should have been charged at least with attempted murder. ‘Apparently when White people shoot [Blacks], there is no deadly intent,’ she said.”

It’s hard not to see the call for an end to the #4thPrecinctShutdown as the older generation of politicians and older, more established leaders opposing the younger, more activist leadership now emerging. But Chaun Webster — certainly part of the younger leadership generation and no supporter of City Hall — cautioned in a Facebook post:

“Perhaps there is use for pause. Reflection. A practice of refraining from being so quick to jump on ‘us’ and ‘them’ rhetoric.

“It is completely possible to be of the mind that we need to think of other tactics than an encampment AND that a letter written by Mayor Betsy Hodges and signed by political leaders was riddled with faux ‘concern’ and was missing the mark.

“It is possible to be discontent with the way political leaders (not just white political leaders) AND the way organizers are using the loosely defined language of the ‘community’. The binary thinking isn’t helping.”

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