Thursday, March 31, 2016

Not the right kind of justice

Sadly, we've seen this movie before and it doesn't have a happy ending.

Two Minneapolis police officers will face no charges in the shooting death of Jamar Clark — a decision that prompted an immediate outcry from activists, who said they didn’t trust the way the case was handled and were livid about how the deadly encounter unfolded.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced the decision Wednesday morning. He said the evidence in the case didn’t clear the “high bar” required to convict officers for using lethal force in the line of duty, instead laying out a version of events in which the officers shot Clark after he grabbed for an officer’s gun during a struggle last fall.

Freeman said forensic evidence — including DNA on the gun grip — supported the accounts of the two officers involved. He said it didn’t match accounts from other witnesses that Clark was handcuffed when he was shot.

Clark’s death came amid national public outcry against police shootings involving people of color; Clark was black and the two officers involved were white.

As anticipation grew over whether the officers would be charged, protesters from Black Lives Matter as well as the local NAACP made constant pleas of "Justice 4 Jamar!!!" Unfortunately, the only "justice" they appeared interested in would be the two officers being charged with murder. Anything less than that was unacceptable in their eyes, forensic evidence be damned.

“Your entire narrative today was to push the propaganda of the Minneapolis Police Department,” Raeisha Williams, communications chair of the Minneapolis NAACP, told Freeman amid a flurry of heated comments.

She added: “If the city burns, it’s on your hands.”

In response to Williams' threat, a Star Tribune editorial struck a rational tone.

No. If the city burns, it will be on the heads of those who do the burning. To date, BLM has done the difficult work of advancing its agenda while refraining from violence. It is more important than ever that protests remain peaceful.

While most of the protests and vigils have been peaceful, things started to get out of hand just before Midnight last evening. According to the MN Police Clips Facebook page, demonstrations were starting to become unruly outside of Minneapolis's 4th precinct.

Minneapolis - Protests - Outside the 4th Pct officers are reporting several pounding on the glass(In the doors I believe) and have locked them, but are expecting some property damage to occur - Protesters then burned a flag (Some others weren't happy about this) - There was some mention of them trying to get the PD's flag, but that hasn't occurred yet - Some mention of protesters trying to go on the roof, but unsure if they've accomplished that yet - Officers have locked down the back gated area due to the incidents in front - Appears some officers who will respond if needed re-positioned closer to the area - And now they're burning the little free library thing the PD had out front (UPDATE: The books were saved. Unsure if fire went out or was put out).

There was also a report of a police officer injured in neighboring Robbinsdale. Apparently a squad car was shot at which shattered a window thus resulting in the officer taking shards of glass in the face. Thankfully, it does not appear the bullet actually hit the cop.

While many of us are focused on the legalese as well as the ugly aftermath of this incident, the aforementioned Strib editorial once again puts this in its proper perspective.

A young man lost his life, leaving behind grieving family members and a community struggling to come to grips with yet another tragedy on city streets. But Freeman made the right decision based on the evidence and the law, and he did so with transparency and integrity.

I concur with the sentiment that Freeman handled this about as well as any public official could. The unprecedented amount of transparency put forth is something that has been sorely lacking among urban public officials and politicos.

I just hope and pray that the community can heal and that relations can be improved between law enforcement & the citizens. There's little doubt that both aspects will be lengthy processes.


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