Leaders of the weekslong protest outside Minneapolis’ Fourth Precinct police station returned there Tuesday afternoon to call on officials to remove the barricades they had put up around the station — and to do more to help the city’s North Side.
Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, said the barricades put up after the city ended protesters’ occupation had turned the precinct on Plymouth Avenue N. into “what essentially looks like a penitentiary.” She said it was a symbol of how north Minneapolis is treated differently from other parts of the city, and she called on Mayor Betsy Hodges and other officials to follow through with promises of training opportunities, jobs and development for North Side residents.
“We need to ask the question: What kind of city are we creating in the city of Minneapolis?” Levy-Pounds said.
She repeated the demands that her organization and Black Lives Matter have called for since Jamar Clark was fatally shot by police Nov. 15: the release of video of the shooting and prosecution of the officers without a grand jury. Protesters have pointed to witness reports of Clark being handcuffed when he was shot, while police have said Clark was not handcuffed. State and federal officials are investigating the incident. Clark died of a gunshot to the head.
But speakers said they’re also looking for broader changes, including a deeper commitment from the city to jobs and economic development in north Minneapolis and a federal investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department’s treatment of people of color.
Two of five people who were shot in an apparently racially motivated incident during the protests said they feel unsafe because of the shooting and their interactions with police. (Four people have been charged in the Nov. 23 incident.)
Teven King, 19, pulled up his sweatshirt to reveal a large bandage over his stomach, where he said a bullet tore into his intestines and remains lodged. Cameron Clark, a cousin of Jamar Clark, who was also shot during the protests, said he feels “betrayed” by police and questioned why the department needed a barricade that “looks like we’re going to go to war with them.”
“All lives matter, it’s just not about black lives matter, but I feel like black lives are the ones who are going through a lot right now, and I just don’t understand what’s going on,” he said.
About a half-hour after the news conference, city crews began taking down some of the barricades. A police spokesman said the work had been planned last week.
North Minneapolis has been the focus of some recent city initiatives and developments, including a new $8 million service center at Aldrich and West Broadway. The facility will have space for medical services, job assistance and education run by the county, state and Minneapolis Public Schools.
In April, the North Side was selected as one of 13 communities across the country to get a federal “Promise Zone” designation. It provides the city with priority status for federal grants related to programs in north Minneapolis, along with volunteers and technical assistance. The program aims to reduce disparities in housing, economic development and education, among other areas.
But Levy-Pounds said officials need to show more tangible signs of progress, particularly on revolving loan programs, job training and the development of an African-American economic development center.
“That’s why we’re standing out here,” she said.