County Attorney gets extension on protest shooting charges

A #Justice4Jamar march in November 2015. File photo by Sarah McKenzie
A #Justice4Jamar march in November 2015. File photo by Sarah McKenzie

Four men remain in custody at Hennepin County Jail pending charges connected to Monday night’s shooting near the 4th Precinct protest site, which left five protesters injured.

Protesters say the shooters were white supremacists who had been stalking the 4th Precinct demonstration area for days and boasted of it on social media. In a YouTube video posted on Black Lives Matter’s Facebook page Nov. 19, two men identify themselves to viewers as “SaigaMarine” and “Black Powder Ranger” while driving to the 4th Precinct site.

“We are locked and loaded,” SaigaMarine said, who later said “stay white” before ending the video.

The four men in custody include Allen Lawrence Scarsella, 23; Nathan Wayne Gustavsson, 21; Joseph Martin Backman, 27; and Daniel Thomas Macey, 26. One man has been released — a 32-year-old Hispanic man who was arrested in South Minneapolis — after police determined he wasn’t in the area of the shooting incident.

Minneapolis Police are working with the FBI on the investigation.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday that the suspects will remain in Hennepin County Jail until at least Monday. A Hennepin County District Court Judge has granted the county attorney’s office until Monday at noon to making a charging decision on the suspects.

Minneapolis Police responded to 1400 Morgan Avenue North after hearing multiple shots fired in the area at 10:41 p.m. on Monday, which is one block north of the 4th Precinct station.

The shooting victims, all black males, have non-life threatening injuries, according to police. Three were transported to North Memorial Medical Center and two taken to HCMC.

UnicornRiot interviewed witnesses of the shooting who said three men in masks approached the site and were confronted by protesters asking them to take their masks off. Later, they ran down the block and started opening fire on protesters. One protester was shot in the stomach, they said. Police later arrived and one officer started Macing the crowd, witnesses said.

In a video, Mayor Betsy Hodges said she “abhors last night’s acts.”

“We are sparing no efforts to find the suspects and to bring them to justice,” she said. “I am committed to keeping our entire city and all of our people safe, and together we will be one Minneapolis.”

Thousands of people marched to City Hall from the 4th Precinct Tuesday afternoon as part of the #Justice4Jamar march — a sign of solidarity with five protesters who were shot Monday night.

Some of the protesters who were shot the night before even managed to summon the strength to participate in the march.

March leaders led the way on the back of a red truck and shared words of encouragement from a bullhorn. They paused under a skyway filled with people not far from Nicollet Mall and chanted, “We own these streets.” At other times, they danced, sang and chanted, “No justice, no peace, prosecute the police.”

Protesters near the front of the march carried banners that said “We must love each other and support each other” and “We have nothing to lose but our chains.” Others carried Black Lives Matter signs and ones reading “White Supremacy Kills” and “White people: what will you do today to change our legacy of violence?,” among many other messages.

Following a gathering in front of the Federal Courthouse and City Hall, marchers made their way back to the 4th Precinct for a memorial concert for Clark.

All 13 members of the City Council issued this statement Tuesday night:

We are very concerned that last night, five community members were shot in our city. We have zero tolerance for this type of violent action and are relieved to hear that arrests have already been made related to this shooting. This follows nine days of demonstrations outside the Fourth Precinct in response to the death of Jamar Clark, a young African-American man who died after being shot by a Minneapolis police officer. We mourn the loss of his life and extend our deep condolences to his family.

We understand that many of our residents, especially those who identify with the Black Lives Matter movement, see the recent events in Minneapolis as part of a nationwide discussion on police accountability and its impact on the African-American community. We acknowledge this is an important national dialogue and we are here to listen to our Minneapolis residents and take action to address these concerns. We also thank Mayor Hodges for responding so swiftly to community calls for an independent, federal investigation.

In light of events occurring across the country, we know that one of the City’s first priorities is ensuring the public safety of all. This priority guides the decision-making by Mayor Hodges and Police Chief Harteau and we thank them for their efforts in this challenging time to protect all people in our city, including those involved in the peaceful demonstrations.

The right to peacefully gather is an essential expression of our constitutional right to free speech. We fully support lawful protests that do not cause injury to anyone or damage to our neighborhoods. We thank the vast majority of those who have assembled for their commitment to ensuring peace and safety. We thank and support those of our officers who have been working to ensure that our community is safe for everyone.

As a City Council, we come from diverse backgrounds and bring a range of perspectives to our work which reflects the various views of the communities we each represent. We are united in addressing the racial inequities that hold back our city. We support thorough and transparent state and federal investigations of this case. We agree on the need to examine our policing and criminal justice system, as part of our larger goal to close the racial equity gaps in Minneapolis.

We are committed to making Minneapolis a city that is strong, safe, and prosperous for all residents.

Jamar Clark’s brother Eddie Sutton issued the following statement Tuesday morning:  “Thank you to the community for the incredible support you have shown for our family in this difficult time. We appreciate Black Lives Matter for holding it down and keeping the protests peaceful. But in light of tonight’s shootings, the family feels out of imminent concern for the safety of the occupiers, we must get the occupation of the 4th precinct ended and onto the next step.”

Sen. Al Franken also issued a statement following last night’s shooting:  “Like all Minnesotans, I was horrified to learn about the shooting of five people outside the Fourth Precinct last night. I understand that a search for the shooters is currently underway, and I join residents of the North Side in demanding that they be brought to justice. In the meantime, my thoughts are with Jamar Clark’s family and the injured.”

Congressman Keith Ellison said the shooting of five black protesters Monday night should be investigated as a hate crime.

“I attended Jamar Clark’s funeral today, and I join in the community’s mourning for Jamar Clark and for all of the Jamar Clarks who propel the protestors to demand meaningful change,” Ellison said. “Since the occupation of the Fourth Precinct, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis has achieved a great deal. …  This activism has sparked a long overdue conversation about issues facing Black Minnesotans, which I know intimately as a North Minneapolis resident. As we continue our work on these critical issues, the safety of everyone at the Fourth Precinct must be our highest priority.”

He said it’s time for the protests to “evolve beyond the encampment.”

“The changes we seek will likely take years, not weeks or months. But together, as a community, we can move forward to ensure that we all have an opportunity to live in an equitable, just, peaceful society,” he said.