Ellison, Hodges call for 4th Precinct occupation to end; protesters say no


Mayor Betsy Hodges and other city leaders are asking protesters to voluntarily end their occupation of the Fourth Precinct, but protesters say they aren't going anywhere.

Protesters and activists have been camped outside the precinct since Nov. 15 – the day Jamar Clark was shot by Minneapolis police officers.

Hodges, along with U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Johnson and other members of the community spoke at a news conference Monday morning, calling for the movement to evolve beyond the occupation, while still allowing people to protest.

They cited safety issues for the community and the precinct, noting the protests started with good intentions, but has now become harmful.

Ellison and Steven Belton, the interim president of the Minneapolis Urban League, described the unintended negative effects the two-week occupation has had on the community the protesters are trying to help.

Among them: Plymouth Avenue – the main thoroughfare in the community – is blocked, which prevents emergency vehicles and community members from getting through. Ellison also cited domestic terrorists coming to the precinct to start trouble, and said smoke from the fires is impacting the neighborhood, which already has poor air quality.

Monday's plea comes a day after the Minneapolis Fire Department met with activists and discussed safety and health concerns related to smoke from the fires and the blocking of Plymouth Avenue.

Protesters say they'll stay, demand reforms

However, protesters say they will not end their occupation.

The Minneapolis Chapter of the NAACP and Black Lives Matter Minneapolis said in a news release they're renewing their call for video to be released and reforms be made, in order to protect people in the city. That includes placing the Minneapolis Police Department under a Consent Decree.

A consent decree is an agreement a local police department makes with the Department of Justice to implement new measures or practices. As Bloomberg writes, it usually comes after DOJ officials investigate repeated claims of police misconduct that violates constitutional rights.

"We will not continue to tolerate abuse, harassment, and the criminalization of black and brown people in the city of Minneapolis. We will stand with the community until we see a complete overhaul of the criminal justice system and policing practices in the city of Minneapolis," Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, said in the release.

Hodges said at the news conference that she is "not issuing a deadline right now" for when the protesters have to end their occupation.

Officer involved in shooting named in separate lawsuit

One of the officers identified as being involved in the Clark shooting is named in an excessive force lawsuit filed in federal court last week.

The suit (click here to read it), filed by Nataniel Hanson, claims Dustin Schwarze Tased him unnecessarily during a traffic stop in December 2011. Officers Nate Kinsey and Aric Gallatin, and the Richfield Police Department, are also listed as defendants.

According to the suit:

Hanson was a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over by Richfield police on Dec. 11, 2011, at about 2:30 a.m.

Schwarze told Hanson not to get out of the car or he would "beat" him. Shortly after, a sergeant approached and told Hanson to get out – Hanson did not move right away, unsure of what to do because he'd been told to do the opposite.

Officer Kinsey then punched Hanson, who was pulled out of the car, hit and kicked by officers, and Tased three times by Schwarze.

Hanson was handcuffed and arrested, charged with felony assault of a police officer. Those charges were dismissed.

The suit argues Hanson was arrested without probable cause, and the officers used excessive force against him. He's demanding a jury trial, and seeking at least $50,000 plus damages to compensate for the harm the incident caused.

The Star Tribune reports the lawsuit was in the works in Hennepin County on Nov. 5, before Clark was shot. It was moved to federal court last week.

Attorneys for the Richfield Police Department did not respond to FOX 9 or the Star Tribune.

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