Union members join a protest over the police killing of Jamar Clark. Kyndell Harkness/Star Tribune
St. Paul police union officials this week criticized the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3800 for its support of protesters condemning the shooting death of 24-year-old Jamar Clark by Minneapolis police, calling it “so biased and ignorant - it is useless to even debate.”
In a news release, St. Paul Police Federation president David Titus said he was “highly disappointed” with a Nov. 15 resolution of support put out by Local 3800, as well as the presence of the union’s members at protests outside the Fourth Precinct police station in north Minneapolis.
The labor union, which represents University of Minnesota clerical workers, called the shooting an outgrowth of "deep-seated, systemic racism that persists in our country where young people of color are profiled, criminalized, brutalized by police all across America." Local 3800 members also held a rally in solidarity with Black Lives Matter last weekend near where Clark was shot.
Clark was shot in the early morning of Nov. 16 after a physical confrontation with police officers responding to a disturbance call at his sister's North Side apartment building. His death prompted days of public protests demanding an end to police brutality and the firing of the officers involved.
Last week, state and federal authorities opened separate investigations into the incident.
The police union response read, in part:
“If you truly are ‘in solidarity with workers worldwide’ as your website displays - why were you not protesting the unsafe working conditions that rank and file officers (and possibly some AFSCME employees) endured this last week at the 4th Precinct? Bricks, rocks, mace and Molotov Cocktails were used against brother and sister union members. Where's the outrage? Where's the solidarity you speak of?”
Local 3800 leaders noted the union has a “longstanding belief in the need for solidarity between working people and an injury to one worker is an injury to all workers,” and joined protesters in demanding the release of any bystander and surveillance video of the incident. But Federation officials encouraged to “remember that there are men and women who gave an oath and work under very dangerous conditions every day protecting your rights to do so.”
Titus further urged the labor union to "replace" its statement "with language that is more reflective of your practices."
The Minneapolis police union, which has defended the officers, has yet to release a statement of its own, but reposted the St. Paul release on its Facebook page.