MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ An encampment of protesters outside a Minneapolis police station vowed Saturday to maintain their vigil over the death of a Black man who was shot by police, saying they won’t move until video recordings of the encounter are released and authorities change how they interact with communities they serve.
Tents, fire pits and stools have been set up outside the Fourth Precinct, in the heart of a predominantly Black section of the city and just blocks from where Jamar Clark was shot early Sunday after police responded to an assault complaint.
Rallies since the death have been tense at times. Protesters shut down a highway Monday evening, and dozens were arrested. Authorities said protesters threw bottles and rocks Wednesday night, and each side says the other sprayed a chemical irritant into the crowd. The police station, meanwhile, has been spray-painted with Clark’s name and anti-police profanity.
Hundreds gathered Friday at sundown for a peaceful prayer vigil and march. Speakers called generally for unity and justice and praised neighborhood residents for maintaining peace. “I’d like to acknowledge our block brothers” for passing out hand warmers, stoking bonfires fires and keeping things calm, Pastor Brian C. Herron Sr. said.
Minneapolis Police Department Officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze were involved in the shooting, but it’s not clear who fired the fatal shot. Both have been placed on standard administrative leave.
Protesters want authorities to release video footage of the deadly confrontation, and say they don’t believe police statements that Clark reached for an officer’s gun. People who say they were at the scene have said the 24-year-old Clark was handcuffed when he was shot, but police have disputed that.
Authorities have said it wouldn’t be appropriate to release video from sources including an ambulance, a mobile police camera, public housing cameras and citizens’ cellphones because doing so could taint an investigation by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. A federal criminal civil rights probe also is underway.
Authorities also say none of the videos shows the shooting in its entirety.
After Friday’s vigil, protesters marched through the neighborhood to a small memorial where Clark was shot. They prayed and sang “We Shall Overcome” before returning to the police station.
Earlier Friday, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton met with Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, NAACP leaders, the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety and other officials to discuss measures such as community policing.
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