Within hours of the shooting of Jamar Clark (shown) by Minnesota police early Sunday morning, revolutionary groups NAACP and Black Lives Matter had rounded up an estimated 300 people and sufficiently aroused them to block the northbound lanes of Interstate 94, which runs through the city. The lanes were blocked from 6:45 p.m. until after 9 p.m. when most of them had left the scene, leaving a smaller group of protestors in place. Police tried to re-route the traffic, which was backed up for miles, down an embankment, but protestors pummeled the cars with bricks and, when an officer attempted to arrest one of those remaining, he was punched in the face.
Eventually more than 50 were arrested on misdemeanor charges and released when bail was met.
The incident involving Clark began following a physical altercation he had with his girlfriend in front of an apartment complex just after midnight on Sunday. She was beaten so badly that when EMTs arrived they placed her in an ambulance to take her to a local hospital.
Or at least they tried to. Clark, apparently furious at the interference, tried to keep the EMTs from placing the woman into the ambulance and, when the police arrived, apparently wanted to dish out a little of what he had been giving his girlfriend to the police. In the ensuing struggle, a firearm was discharged, with a round hitting Clark in the head.
Clark was taken to the emergency room and placed on life support. He died when life support was removed Monday night. Two of the officers involved were suspended, with pay, per department rules.
Dashcam videos and body cameras didn’t record the incident, but witnesses with iPhones and surveillance cameras nearby, along with a mobile police camera and an ambulance recorder, recorded pieces and parts of it. None of them show the entire incident, according to Drew Evans, a state investigator working the case, and none of them will be released before the investigation is completed, which could take weeks.
This was all the proof that Nekima Levy-Pounds, the president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, needed to show that the police were hiding the fact that one of their finest had murdered one of her people:
How is it that an officer can shoot someone in the head and seemingly get away with it, and not be taken into custody? There is absolutely no way that the conduct of that officer could be justified through departmental policies….
From witness accounts, Jamar Clark was handcuffed and then shot in the head in front of dozens of witnesses. Police essentially threw a corpse into the back of the ambulance and put him on life support at the hospital.
They pulled guns on witnesses and sprayed them with mace.
They waited 45 minutes before asking people what had happened.
This is one of the worst examples of what we’ve seen, recently, with the execution of unarmed black men.
Her statement was backed up by that of Jason Sole, the criminal justice chairman for the NAACP:
Every witness account I heard said he [Clark] was handcuffed. Every witness account. [The police] put a knee on him and shot [him] in the head.
That’s the account I’ve heard from young people, older people, etc.
The NAACP quickly published a demand for “justice” declaring:
On November 15th at Midnight another Black Man has been murdered. The Minneapolis Police Department harassed, abused and shot Jamar Clark execution-style in the head.
Join us and let your voices be heard. March with us in solidarity and demand justice. Let your voices be heard in the streets today.
For its part, the local chapter of Black Lives Matter, the revolutionary group started by a Marxist and two of her friends following the Trayvon Martin shooting by George Zimmerman back in 2012, headed up by Michael McDowell, added fuel to the fire. The groups together are making non-negotiable demands, including wanting to see the footage from all the cameras that recorded the incident, wanting an independent investigation of the incident outside of the Minneapolis police department, wanting the media to interfere in the case by interviewing as many of those witnesses to the altercation as can be found and publishing their accounts, and setting up a civilian review board with “full community oversight [and] full disciplinary power” to enforce its findings. McDowell told the press covering the encampment of several hundred people outside the police station on Sunday night: “We’re not moving until we get that footage.”
One of those alleged witnesses, Teto Wilson, was only too willing to tell the press what he himself had seen with his own eyes: Clark “was just lying there. He was not resisting arrest. Two officers were surrounding [him] on the ground. An officer maneuvered his body around to shield Jamar’s body [from my view] and I heard the shot go off.”
Family members told the press that Clark “was trying to turn his life around and didn’t deserve to be killed, despite past run-ins with the law.” Turns out that Clark had been convicted in 2010 of an aggravated robbery charge (aggravated means a taking by force or the threat of force) and was found guilty earlier this year of making terrorist threats but hadn’t yet been sentenced to prison.
Every element necessary to turn an ordinary police arrest into front page news all across the country was in place. Those elements include:
• A black is shot by a white police officer;
• There is at least some confusion about what actually happened;
• The police, in the interests of justice and fairness, withhold vital information and evidence in order not to taint witnesses who might be called to testify in the case, or serve on a jury, if necessary;
• Revolutionaries have enough traction to accuse the police of impropriety, furthering the sense of distrust among the citizenry;
• A memorable slogan is created and repeated until its message becomes fact in the public’s mind — in this case, it’s “Handcuffs! Don’t Shoot!”;
• There are enough liberals nearby to tout the agenda of ending police brutality through outside (preferably federal) investigations into the incident; and
• Any negative past history of the “victim” is either ignored or downplayed, calling him instead a “good boy” who was “trying to turn his life around.”
In this case, liberals abound. First there’s the mayor of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges, a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and former development director for the nonprofit group Progressive Minnesota before being elected mayor in 2013. Clark hadn’t been declared dead before she fired off a letter to the federal Department of Justice demanding an investigation into the incident.
Then, there’s Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, also a Democrat, sporting a degree from Yale and a marriage to a member of the Rockefeller family, who immediately issued a statement of support for Hodges’ demand for a federal investigation.
Next, there’s Representative Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and close friend and supporter of Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, who wrote a personal letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch formally requesting an investigation.
Lost in all the deliberately planned and staged protests was this most reasonable message from Minnesota Police Chief Janee Harteau:
I want to acknowledge that this is a very difficult situation for everyone involved: for members of our community, members of the Minneapolis Police Department and their families, and for the people who are standing here beside me….
Everyone involved needs and deserves the truth and the facts.
The truth and those facts will eventually emerge, just as they did in the exoneration of George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin and Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown, but by then it really won’t matter. The damage will have been done; uninformed citizens will remain uninformed; and the push for federal police to override and eventually replace local police will have enjoyed another burst of enthusiasm from revolutionaries seeking to transform the Republic.