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Minneapolis community leaders blast police chief for threats against Justice for Jamar protests

By Jess Sundin

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Minneapolis, MN – Community leaders spoke out in united opposition, March 25, to Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau’s remarks about protests that are calling for justice for Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old African American man who was killed by police in November. Tensions are high as the community waits for Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to announce whether or not he will charge the officers for Clark’s murder.

On Thursday, March 24, Chief Harteau released a video statement and held a press conference in which she insinuated the potential for a violent community response to Mike Freeman's pending charging decision. At a joint press conference, Minneapolis NAACP, Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, and Black Clergy United for Change challenged Harteau’s remarks and urged the community to come together and come out for a rally on Saturday, March 26 at 12:00 noon at the Hennepin County Government Center.

“Many in our community find Chief Harteau's recent statements to be offensive, insensitive and divisive. Beyond that, her comments deflect from the underlying causes of outrage and frustration in the Black community – sustained levels of violence being inflicted by the Minneapolis Police Department upon people of color,” said Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP.

“We reject the implication by Chief Harteau that our community is violent. The community's character is not in question, but rather the Minneapolis police, who have consistently violated the rights of the citizenry,” said Mel Reeves, an organizer with the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar.

Speakers urged the media and the community to stay focused on the question of justice for Jamar Clark.

“Our community has waited with bated breath to see the officers who killed Jamar Clark be held accountable under the law. We have been patient and allowed the process to take its course. Now, we are demanding that Mike Freeman uphold the law in a fair, transparent and equitable way,” said Pastor Danny Givens, of Black Clergy United for Change.

The Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar is organizing Saturday’s rally, and expects a massive outpouring of support. Speaking for the Coalition, Jodie Carroll said, “Change will only come when our community stands united and demands justice for those who experience police abuse. We call on the Twin Cities community to reject the not-so-subtle suggestion that a decision to not grant justice in the case of Jamar Clark has already been made.”

Carroll concluded by urging folks to come out for Saturday’s rally “… to make it clear to those in power that we demand prosecution of Minneapolis police officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwartze for the shooting death of unarmed Jamar Clark. We will not rest until we get justice.”

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