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Protest in MN against jail death of Hardel Sherrell

By Sam Martinez

Family members of Hardel Sherrell at Sept. 6 protest.

St. Paul, MN – On Sept. 6, an ad hoc coalition of Black Lives Matter and anti-police crimes organizations held a protest vigil of almost 75 people at the Minnesota governor's mansion to speak out against the death of Hardel Sherrell. On Sept. 2, Hardel Sherrell died of an ‘unknown medical condition’ at the Beltrami County jail, after being held since August 24.

Sherrell was a young 27-year-old Black man. He was also a nephew of local Twin Cities activist Trahern Crews, who has a radio show called “Black Saint Paul” and is active in the Twin Cities metro Black Lives Matter movement.

The governor’s mansion, where the Sept. 6 protest took place, was also the site of an occupation for Philando Castile during the summer of 2016. Family, friends and representatives from the organizations spoke about Hardel’s life, his pleas for help while incarcerated, and about the oppression of Black, brown, indigenous and working people in Minnesota and the United States.

While in jail, Hardel called his mother, Del Shea Perry, and said that he was mistreated and in pain. He warned that if anything happened to him they should “check the tapes.” Sherrell is the third death in the Beltrami County jail, which is in north central Minnesota, in the last three years. In the past 60 days there have been three murders of community members by police officers in the Twin Cities metro area.

Hardel’s experience echoes those of Sarah Lee Circle Bear and Sandra Bland who, after police encounters, were incarcerated and then died while in custody. Activists vow to find out the truth and get justice for Hardel Sherrell.

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