Tragically, Minneapolis is embroiled in yet another police shooting of an African-American man. Early Sunday, 24-year-old Jamar Clark was shot by an officer during an encounter on a north Minneapolis street. Life support was removed, and Clark died on Tuesday.
The local Black Lives Matter (BLM) group led a march and camped out in front of the police precinct near where the shooting occurred, saying they’d stay put unless officials named the officers involved in the shooting, released any related video and called for an outside investigation.
Mayor Betsy Hodges and Police Chief Janeé Harteau made the right call by requesting that a federal investigation be completed along with a separate probe by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). In addition, the police deserve praise for their calm, measured responses to the protests, both this week and during other BLM demonstrations.
But officials could be more transparent. Video is especially important in this case: Witnesses say Clark was cooperating and handcuffed; the chief says he was not. On Tuesday, a BCA official said that some video does exist but that it won’t be released until the investigation is complete. Authorities should be aware that withholding the video will only contribute to public suspicion and mistrust.
In this and other local BLM demonstrations this year, protesters have expressed their views without violence. In both core cities, they announced their plans in advance and worked with city leaders.
But Monday’s sit-in on Interstate 94 was a “split-second’’ decision made by about 100 protesters to block freeway traffic and risk arrest. After being told to leave several times by state troopers, more than 40 adults and eight juveniles were arrested, quickly charged and released.
The Star Tribune Editorial Board recognizes that the BLM movement is raising important issues about police-community relations, and this page will always defend the rights of free speech and peaceful protest. But creating a public safety hazard by blocking an interstate is the kind of behavior that threatens to alienate even those who support those basic rights. As the Clark investigations unfold, continued advance communication and patient, nonviolent responses from police and protesters hopefully will prevail.