MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Black Lives Matter protesters rallied outside the Hennepin County Government Center Tuesday night.
They are demanding more serious charges against the men accused of shooting five protestors on Nov. 23 outside of the 4th Precinct in north Minneapolis.
“We just feel like this is more evidence that the system does not work for black people to bring people that hurt us to justice,” Lena K. Gardner of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis said. “It fails us at every turn.”
Allen “Lance” Scarsella and co-defendants Joseph Backman, Nathan Gustavsson and Daniel Macey all face felony charges of second-degree riot with a dangerous weapon.
Scarsella will face additional counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. Prosecutors say Scarsella was the actual shooter. They say he was also at the protest for Jamar Clark four nights earlier to “cause commotion.”
“It’s not just about Jamar. It’s not about anyone who has gotten killed. It’s about the fact that they think it’s OK,” a protester named Lejikon said.
Protesters want Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to file additional charges against the four.
“I want to know why it wasn’t attempted murder. I want to know why,” Gardner said. “I have serious questions about why it’s not a federal hate crime.”
Freeman says the investigation is ongoing and could yield additional charges.
“We charged the most serious crime we can that fits the evidence,” Freeman said.
A number of those rallying Tuesday night were clergy members, including Pastor Carmen Means of The Movement Church in Minneapolis.
“My goal and my reason for being out here is so those conversations can cease to be had, and we can all live in a community where we feel safe, welcome, warm and loved,” Pastor Means said.
The protest was beginning to quiet down the evening of Nov. 19, when trouble paid a visit. A video was posted to social media that day which shows Scarsella and a friend with a handgun saying that they intended to “stir things up” at the protest.
“And yes we are locked and loaded,” Scarsella’s friend said in the video. “A little reverse cultural enriching. We’re here to make the fire rise.”
Scarsella and three others returned to the encampment four nights later and verbally sparred with protesters. He told an officer he fired eight shots as they were being escorted away.
Eighteen-year-old Wesley Martin was one of the five hit.
“I was looking my shooter in the eye,” Martin said.
He was in the courtroom Tuesday to face his alleged attackers. The judge set Scarsella’s bail at $500,000.
Joseph Backman posted his $250,000 bond and was released Tuesday night. Nathan Gustavsson is still held on $250,000 bail and Daniel Macey is held on $100,000.
When Martin was asked if he recognized Scarsella as the shooter, he said it was hard to say since the suspect was wearing a mask.
“Thinking that he should have gotten charged with way more stuff than he did, than he’s being charged with,” Martin said.
Freeman said that under Minnesota law, penalties would be less severe for the attackers if he charged them with a hate crime.