NAACP president leads hundreds in Minneapolis rally; police on alert


The national president of the NAACP joined Minneapolis activists at a vigil for Jamar Clark Friday evening.

Cornell Brooks supported demonstrators who have occupied the grounds of the police department's Fourth Precinct headquarters all week, protesting the death of Clark, an unarmed 24-year-old who was fatally shot during a scuffle with officers last weekend.

The Star Tribune says Friday's rally drew hundreds of people of all races and reporters called it the largest of this week's gatherings.

Brooks, who is among the country's foremost civil rights leaders, told the crowd he was there because he "believes in what is happening in Minneapolis."

Following the candlelight vigil at the Fourth Precinct, the crowd marched to the site nearby where Clark was shot. Police have said Clark was interfering with paramedics treating an assault victim and was shot when he lunged for an officer's gun during the scuffle. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the U.S. Department of Justice are each investigating the case.

Meeting with Governor, Mayor

Before Friday's vigil, Brooks was at the Governor's Residence to meet with Gov. Mark Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.

Dayton tells the Pioneer Press that during the meeting he asked the NAACP to provide suggestions for police reform, adding " I want very much to learn from what other states are doing better than Minnesota, and we’ll engage NAACP leaders and others throughout the state.”

Hodges told WCCO the meeting involved no demands and instead was a "big-picture conversation about police-community relationships and what we can do moving forward.”

Police on alert

This situation outside the Fourth Precinct headquarters became tense on Wednesday night when police sprayed a chemical irritant at protesters who were said to be throwing rocks and bottles at officers.

Police Chief Janeé Harteau says that later that night Molotov cocktails were thrown at police and gunshots were fired, attributing them to "anarchists" and "people from outside our community coming in to perpetrate violence."

Friday afternoon police issued an alert warning that “a group may attempt to cause a disturbance this evening in front of the Police Department’s 4th Precinct,” and urging the demonstrators gathered there to report any actions that seemed out of the ordinary.

Police later said they'd found the materials for Molotov cocktails near the Fourth Precinct.

Videos not released

Authorities have said videos showing portions of Jamar Clark's scuffle with police were shot from a camera in the ambulance, a mobile police camera mounted in the area, a public housing surveillance camera, and the cell phones of citizens.

Protesters have been calling on investigators to make those videos public but investigators say they will not release them while the investigation is underway. A statement released by the U.S. Attorney's office Friday evening reaffirmed that decision, saying "“Release of any evidence, including any video, during an ongoing investigation would be extremely detrimental to the investigation."

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