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Feds cover up police killing of Jamar Clark, community renews fight for justice

By Jess Sundin

Minneapolis, MN – Anger at the police killing of Jamar Clark will fuel more protests, as demands for justice are renewed by the June 2 announcement that there will be no federal charges against the police who killed him last November. U.S. Attorney Andy Luger announced the results of a federal investigation in this case, speaking for 20 minutes at a closed-door press conference at the FBI headquarters in Brooklyn Park, a suburb of Minneapolis.

He and Minneapolis FBI director Richard Thornton claimed that hundreds of hours of investigation failed to produce evidence that the killing of the unarmed African American 24-yea- old man was unlawful. This press conference, much like that of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s at the end of March, was dedicated to all the ways a defense attorney could work to exonerate the police who killed Clark 61 seconds after arriving on the scene.

First, they “concluded Clark was not handcuffed when shot.” According to Luger, witness accounts differed on whether Clark was handcuffed in front or behind his back, while police said he was not handcuffed. Investigators then turned to forensic evidence, which he said was “not conclusive.” There was “insufficient DNA for identification” on the handcuffs, and the medical examiner had not found bruising on Clark’s wrists, which “might have corroborated witness accounts.” Luger’s presentation suggests that the police killing of unarmed individuals is legal, so long as there are no handcuffs on.

As an explanation of this, he reported that both officers involved claimed that they “feared for their lives,” and that investigators uncovered no evidence to “disprove these statements.” To bolster this claim, Luger says, “On video, Ringgenberg appears to be struggling to get away from Clark, reaching for his [own] belt.” Referring to the video released by Freeman’s office in March, Luger fails to address that seconds earlier, Ringgenberg had grabbed Clark around the neck from behind and slammed him to the ground, in a take-down maneuver that is not sanctioned by the Minneapolis Police Department.

Finally, despite reports that Jamar Clark’s fingerprints were never found on Ringgenberg’s gun, Luger once again parrots the tired line of Mike Freeman: Clark’s DNA was found on the gun. He acknowledges this is inconclusive, and they cannot determine how his DNA got onto the gun. The video offers evidence of the simplest answer: The gun likely brushed against Clark when he was taken down violently and pinned to the ground, seconds before Ringgenberg told his partner to shoot.

Mayor Betsy Hodges and MPD Chief Janee Harteau both made public statements endorsing the findings. Lieutenant Bob Kroll, president of the police federation, criticized both for supporting the investigations that “victimized” the killer cops. He went further, characterizing Black Lives Matter as a “terrorist organization,” for its part in leading some of the protests demanding justice for Jamar. Kroll is well-known as an open racist with a long record of brutality both on the job and off duty.

Family and community were shaken, but not surprised, by Thursday’s announcement. They are responding with action.

On Friday, June 3, the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar Clark (TCC4J) will hold its 17th consecutive Friday action in the Hennepin County Government Center. Jamar’s father, James Clark and others will speak, continuing to demand Justice for Jamar Clark via prosecution of the Minneapolis Police Department by any means necessary. Clark has described the Justice Department investigation as a “cover-up” that dismisses countless witnesses and video that show Jamar was not resisting police when he was thrown to the ground and then shot in the head. He says Freeman and the FBI should be prosecuted themselves, as accessories-after-the-fact, in the murder of his son.

On Saturday, June 4, TCC4J will stand with Justice4MarcusGolden at “Blue Lies Matter: Marcus Golden's 26th B-Day Solidarity Rally.” The rally will celebrate the life of Marcus Golden, who was killed by Saint Paul police in January 2015. When lives are stolen by police violence, the victims are framed as responsible for their own deaths, and the killers go free. Organizers say it is time speak truth over the “blue lies.” The action will remember Marcus and Jamar, as well as others killed by area police: Terrance Franklin, Phil Quinn, Fong Lee, Michael Kirvelay, Victor Gaddy, Guillermo Canas, Quincy Smith and Map Kong.

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