About 30 protestors demanding the release of video footage of the shooting of Jamar Clark peacefully occupied the City Hall rotunda Tuesday.
“This is an escalation of the tactic of peace,” said the Rev. Danny Givens, one of a number of faith leaders taking part in the action. Givens said the group arrived about 9 a.m. and was “planning to stay until they put us out.”
Those occupying City Hall said they were acting in solidarity with an ongoing Black Lives Matter-led demonstration outside of the Fourth Precinct police headquarters. Black Lives Matter also plans a 4 p.m. rally on the plaza outside the Hennepin County Government Center.
In addition to the immediate release of video evidence in Clark’s shooting death during a Nov. 15 confrontation with Minneapolis police, the group was demanding that the case against the officers involved not go through the grand jury process. Protestors claim grand juries almost never return indictments against police officers.
Anthony Grimes of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a New York-based non-profit interfaith organization, said they were also demanding a “community protection plan” for North Side residents, particularly those involved in the Fourth Precinct occupation.
Givens said officers have hinted at retaliation for the protests.
“I’ve seen threats made to other protestors in my presence,” he said.
The Rev. Brian Herron said their action at City Hall was “letting them know we’re not going to drop it and it’s not going away.” Herron is pastor at Zion Baptist Church, located less than a mile from the Fourth Precinct.
He said while Clark’s death was the “catalyst” for the protests, “the issues are so much bigger.”
Givens said several City Council members, including Lisa Bender, Andrew Johnson and Cam Gordon, had come down from their third-floor offices to meet with the protestors.
Some at the City Hall protest passed the time by drawing or crocheting. Oluchi Omeoga was one of six protestors playing a game of Jenga at a table on the third floor that overlooked the rotunda.
“We’re just here to show that we need to escalate the situation in order to get our demands (met),” Omeoga said.
The Tuesday afternoon rally planned by Black Lives Matter comes in response to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s decision not to charge with a hate crime four men who allegedly shot at Fourth Precinct protestors Nov. 23. Five people were injured in the incident. Protestors have labeled the men white supremacists.