About 40 protesters jammed the lobby of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s office Friday to demand he prosecute two Minneapolis police officers involved in the shooting of Jamar Clark, rather than take the case to a grand jury.
A demonstration organizer, Mel Reeves, said it would be the first in a series of events that protesters are calling “Freeman Fridays.” They plan to gather each Friday at 12:30 p.m. to rally in the Government Center atrium, followed by a trip up the elevators to Freeman’s office on the 20th floor.
Freeman was not in the office on Friday, said Lolita Ulloa, division manager for victim services for the county attorney. Ulloa stepped into the lobby to hear the protesters’ concerns.
She said that Freeman had received an investigative report on the Clark case from the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension this week and was reviewing it.
In response to a question from protester Jodie Carroll, Ulloa said Freeman had not decided whether to take the matter to a grand jury.
“We grieve for the community and we grieve for the family,” she said.
Clark, a black man, was shot during a scuffle with police on the North Side on Nov. 15 and died Nov. 16, setting off a string of demonstrations. Witnesses say Clark was handcuffed and unarmed when he was shot, an assertion the police union denies. They say Clark was reaching for an officer’s gun.
Demonstrators have argued that because grand jury proceedings are secret, the public will not have an opportunity to see the evidence or hear the testimony of witnesses. They say it is a way for Freeman to put the blame on the grand jury, if there is an indictment.
They said the decision to prosecute should be left in the hands of Freeman, who is elected and must face the political consequences if he doesn’t do so.
“Mike Freeman, you have the opportunity to do the right thing,” Adrian Thompson, a protester, said at the brief rally in the atrium. “You have a legal and moral duty.”
Aryn Seymour, who is almost four, stood in the crowd with her mother, Alexandria Lane. Aryn held a cardboard sign that read simply, “No grand jury.”