“It looks like a prison. It absolutely looks like a fortress,” said Asha Long as she and other Black Lives Matter Minneapolis organizers stood outside the barricades surrounding the Minneapolis 4th police precinct on Tuesday. “What are they trying to keep out? And who are they trying to keep in? And where’s the protection being served?”
NAACP Minneapolis President Nekima Levy-Pounds called the barricades “disturbing.” “Right now it feels like a city that is separate and unequal for African Americans and people of color. And we are here to say that we’re not going to take it anymore.”
The barricades went up around the police station in response to activists occupying the area and demanding the city release video it has of Minneapolis police officers shooting an unarmed Jamar Clark in the back of his head and killing him. Investigators say releasing the video would taint witness testimony.
Pastor Danny Givens, Jr of Above Every Name Ministries said the barricades send a negative message to the north Minneapolis neighborhood the police are supposed to be protecting. “This is a place that says we’re not even here to protect you anymore. We’re not even here for your service anymore.”
Symbol of lack of transparency
To the protesters, the barricades are a visual symbol of the lack of transparency that surrounds the investigation of the shooting and policing in general.
“We demand transparency for this police force and what they’re doing in this community — that they’re not being held accountable for,” said Long.
A grand jury will handle the investigation of Clark’s death and that’s troubling to Levy-Pounds.
“We’re asking for a fair prosecution of the officers who were involved in the shooting death of Jamar Clark. We know that the Hennepin county attorney is doing the same thing that’s been done for the last 35 years and that is to take this case to a grand jury even though that system has been ineffective and has resulted in zero accountability in officer involved shootings.
“The Hennepin county attorney has the ability to directly prosecute those involved in the shooting death of Jamar Clark. That is what we demand and that is what we expect. And if we are not going to receive fairness in this process once again we call upon the federal government including Attorney General Loretta Lynch and President Obama himself to intervene on behalf of African American residents on the north side of Minneapolis to effect change in this situation.
“The violence that people have been enduring has been going on for decades and we are tired of standing back and allowing people to be harassed abused and criminalized by the Minneapolis police department. Not to mention that we have a young African American man who was shot in the head. And he was unarmed. And there seems to be little justification for his death. And we have asked for the video tapes to be released so we can get to the truth of what happened in that situation and hopefully prevent other casualties at the hands of law enforcement.”
At a press conference in front of the police station, Levy-Pounds and Black Lives Matter Minneapolis called for the barricades to be removed. According to a Star Tribune photo, after the press conference city workers did dismantle parts of the fencing to allow handicapped access to the sidewalk.