A new chant rose up as protesters, incensed by Saturday’s fatal shooting of Thurman Junior Blevins by Minneapolis police, once again took to the streets Thursday night in north Minneapolis.
“Six shots in the back! How you justify that!” was a new slogan that joined the more familiar refrains.
A half dozen family members of Blevins, 31, spoke to a crowd of about 80 people gathered on a humid evening in the parking lot of the Cub Foods store at 701 W. Broadway.
“He was a good young man,” said Thurman’s aunt, Jeanette Blevins of Minneapolis. “He participated in a lot of youth programs when he was young. I have a picture of him at home. I’m sorry that this happened to him. I’m going to miss him.”
Blevins was killed Saturday in the Camden neighborhood, after police say someone reported a man matching his description walking down the street, firing a 9-millimeter handgun into the ground and the air.
The days since have spawned competing narratives. Police have said Blevins was armed when he encountered the officers. His family members and several witnesses have said he had a bottle in his hands.
Blevins’ older brother, Joseph Blevins, flew to Minneapolis from his home in Portland, Ore., to join the rest of his family in mourning.
“He could make anybody smile,” he said of Thurman. “I’m glad he was in my life. I hope this is something the community and the rest of the world sees. This has to stop. We’re going to keep fighting till the fight is done and we’ve won.”
Blevins, who went by “Junior” or “Jun,” “was a good dude,” said his older sister, Darlynn Blevins. “That was my heart right there.”
Others spoke, too, about others shot and killed by police in the past few years.
Corydon Nilsson, a founder member of the New North, one of several groups that organized the protest, said he and his supporters will be “out here for anybody abused by the police, like Thurman. How they did him was so dirty. They want to sweep this under the rug. They want this to go away.”
The group eventually marched to the bridge over Interstate 94, then turned and marched in the opposite direction, returning to the Cub parking lot about 9:15 p.m.