MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Friday’s Minneapolis City Council meeting received an unexpected interruption as one organization spoke out against the shooting of an unarmed black man by a police officer.
Jamar Clark was shot and killed by Minneapolis Police early Sunday morning after officers responded to an assault call. The police union says Clark tried reaching for one of the officers guns. Some witnesses say Clark was restrained and in handcuffs.
It was a quieter and peaceful night Thursday at Minneapolis’ 4th precinct as people continue to protest, but protesters — not associated with the group Black Lives Matter Minneapolis — showed up at the Minneapolis City Council meeting to confront councilmembers.
Michelle Gross of Communities United Against Police Brutality asked supporters to join her at Friday’s meeting.
Shortly after the meeting was called to order, Gross interrupted and told leaders police need to be held accountable for Clark’s death.
City Council president Barb Johnson told Gross she was out of order, but she continued her message until being escorted outside by four officers. As she was escorted out, Gross shouted, “We will be heard. You will be held accountable for what you have done to our community.”
Two more supporters followed her lead, before also being led outside.
Even though the protesters were escorted out of the meeting, they believe they were still effective. They say Friday’s actions are just the beginning, but stopped short of giving details about future plans.
“We have people who are righteously angered, and we need to address people’s concerns. They shouldn’t be sitting there talking about mundane matters of city business,” Gross said. “Not now. They should be addressing the community and dealing with what the community needs right now … Our city’s an inch away from turning into Ferguson.”
Lamorris Brayden left the sit-in at the 4th Precinct to see if his voice would be heard, but not to interrupt the meeting.
“Right now, there ain’t no place I’d rather be. I quit my job to be there,” Brayden said. I’m willing to talk to anyone that’s willing to listen.”
He never got that opportunity, and neither did Julian Johnson. City council meetings do not allow for public comment, which is left for committee meetings.
“It would have been nice if they would have allowed some public comment because we’re in crisis,” Johnson said. “We are definitely in crisis.”
Ward 2 Councilman Cam Gordon says this is a scenario he has seen play out before.
“It’s not unusual for me to see people coming in thinking they’re going to have opportunity to address the council and we’re not really providing it automatically here,” Gordon said.
The meeting ended with many promising to return. For them, this issue is too important to ignore.
“You can’t continue to have business as usual,” Johnson said. “Look in streets, OK. They’re not going anywhere.”
There was an attempt to suspend the rules and allow that public comment Friday, but that motion failed.
After talking to the more vocal demonstrators, it is sounding like this will not be the last time that the city council meeting has that kind of interruption.
Gordon and fellow councilmembers Alondra Cano and Lisa Bender have expressed their support for protesters and their demands to release video evidence in the case. They even attended a rally to show solidarity Thursday night.
Someone was at the meeting wearing a shirt bearing a “Black Lives Matter” message. Black Lives Matter Minneapolis has spent its time at the 4th Precinct on Plymouth Avenue. Protesters remain there. Some have camped out since Sunday.
Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders tweeted support for those protesting Clark’s death in North Minneapolis.