Last night in Minneapolis, five peaceful protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement were shot by armed assailants who protesters believe to be white supremacists. Black Lives Matter protesters have maintained a presence outside the Fourth Precinct police station in Minneapolis since the shooting of Jamar Clark on November 15th.
“Last night’s horrendous shooting wasn’t just an attack on Black Lives Matter protesters,” said Justin Mazzola, Deputy Director of Research for Amnesty International USA, “it was an attack on the bedrock rights of free expression and assembly.”
“The protesters came under fire outside a police station,” said Mazzola. “We call upon the Minneapolis Police Department to take action to ensure the safety of protesters. It is absolutely crucial that all citizens be free to safely and peacefully gather in protest.”
Protests have taken place in and around Minneapolis since news of Jamar Clark’s shooting became public. Clark was shot in the head after Minneapolis police officers responded to an altercation in the early morning hours of November 15th. He was unarmed and there are conflicting reports on whether he was handcuffed when he was shot.
Amnesty International USA has called on the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and FBI to conclude their investigations into Clark’s death as soon as practicable and to be transparent with the public. The case raises wider issues for the Minneapolis community and merits public scrutiny, including of any video of the incident. Authorities must also keep Clark’s family informed throughout the investigation, and if the evidence indicates that the killing was unlawful, the police officer responsible should be criminally prosecuted.
In 2015, Amnesty International USA released its report, Deadly Force: Police use of lethal force in the United States, which found that all state statutes on the use of lethal force, including Minnesota’s, fail to comply with international law and standards on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers. The organization is calling on the Minnesota Legislature to amend its state statute, Minn. Stat. § 609.066, to restrict the use of lethal force to as a matter of last resort in those situations when an officer or others are faced with an imminent threat of death or serious injury, and only after nonviolent means have been exhausted.