Reaction Sharp after Decision to Not Charge Officers in Jamar Clark's Death

March 31, 2016 10:55 AM

Reaction was sharp inside a Hennepin County grand jury room Wednesday after Attorney Mike Freeman's announcement that the two Minneapolis police officers involved in the shooting death of 24-year-old Jamar Clark would not be criminally charged.

Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds challenged Freeman during the question-and-answer part of his new conference after his announcement.

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"You have not held one single officer accountable," Levy-Pounds said to Freeman.

Emotions were running high inside the room.

"If the city burns, it's on your hands," someone else shouted at Freeman.

Protesters began to block Plymouth Avenue after 12:15 p.m. Wednesday between James and Knox avenues.

After the news conference, Mica Grimes of Black Lives Matter said she hopes there is a civil suit and that she hopes Clark's family gets justice.

"If we can't find justice here, we will find it in the streets," Grimes said.

She said that will work to defeat Freeman in the next election. Freeman is serving his fourth non-consecutive term as Hennepin County Attorney and would be up for re-election again in 2018.

Rep. Raymond Dehn, (DFL-Minneapolis) who represents North Minneapolis, including Plymouth Avenue North, said in a statement he is upset about the decision to not bring charges.

"I'm asking those frustrated and angry with this decision to join me in focusing on positive actions that will bring the changes of existing systems we have been seeking. We all know that the criminal justice system disproportionately negatively impacts communities of color, but now isn't the time to weaken our message with violence," Dehn said.

Mel Reeves, who leads the Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice 4 Jamar, said members of his group are outraged.

"The only thing Mike Freeman said today that was true was his name," Reeves said. "He also sent a message to the police that they can pretty much do what they want."

Meanwhile, people in North Minneapolis closely watching the decision said they were outraged.

Customers gathered around the television at Wilson's Image Barbers & Stylists on West Broadway Wednesday morning. People used words like "ridiculous," "insulting," and "pathetic," when describing the decision. The owner of the shop, Teto Wilson, said he believes the officers should have been charged.

"It's really hard to believe that they expect for the community to believe what they're reporting; this is crazy," Wilson said.

People in the barbershop told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they believe the justice process is broken and they don't know when, if ever, it will get fixed. 

At least two civil rights groups who had pushed for charges planned to rally Wednesday.

Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice 4 Jamar planned to rally at 5 p.m. at Plymouth Avenue North and James Avenue, the site of the shooting.

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis planned a 6 p.m. event at Elliot Park.

The Minneapolis Urban League was planning a news conference Wednesday to respond to Freeman's announcement, but it canceled it Wednesday afternoon.

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Dave Aeikens & Joe Mazan

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