Minneapolis – A few dozen demonstrators endured bitter cold on Saturday outside a Minneapolis police station, where they have spent the last week encamped in protest of the killing of an unarmed African-American man.
Jamar Clark, 24, was shot on Sunday by police two blocks from the 4th Precinct police station and died on Monday night after his family decided to disconnect life support. Two officers under investigation in the incident have been identified, but their races have not been revealed.
Clark’s death comes at a time of heightened debate in the United States over police use of lethal force, especially against black people. Over the past year, protests against killings of unarmed black men and women – some videotaped with phones or police cameras – have rocked a number of cities.
“There are a lot of us men doing a whole lot of talking … but the men need to make sure that the talk is put into play,” Michael Wilson, a 33-year-old protester, said through a bullhorn, imploring the other male protesters to take responsibility for their community and families.
As Wilson spoke, about 50 of his fellow demonstrators tried to stay warm in the 20-degree Fahrenheit (-6 C) temperatures by drinking hot coffee and huddling in circles around several campfires. The fires were lit in the middle of the street in front of the station, where protesters have pitched about a dozen tents.
A steady stream of cars arrived throughout the day with more firewood and food as a few protesters cleaned up garbage strewn about on the muddy ground and city crews scrubbed profane graffiti off the station’s brick walls.
The mood was relatively light on Saturday, as several police officers stood by and mingled with demonstrators, trading recommendations on how to stay warm and chatting about NFL football.
Although the protests throughout the week have been largely peaceful, police have used pepper spray and fired rubber marking bullets on at least two occasions as the demonstrations became heated.
Protesters, who have demanded release of video footage of the incident, say Clark was unarmed and handcuffed when he was shot.
Officials have confirmed no weapon was found at the scene and said they are looking in to whether Clark was handcuffed. The police union said Clark had grabbed one of the officers’ guns, although the weapon remained in its holster.