Police: Five shot near Minneapolis protest scene

Published 9:11 am Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Minneapolis police cordoned off a section of road near the 1400 block of Morgan Avenue in north Minneapolis late Monday night after five people were shot, just a block from the police department’s 4th Precinct. Doualy Xaykaothao/MPR News

Minneapolis police cordoned off a section of road near the 1400 block of Morgan Avenue in north Minneapolis late Monday night after five people were shot, just a block from the police department’s 4th Precinct. Doualy Xaykaothao/MPR News

By Peter Cox and Doualy Xaykaothao

MPR.org/90.1 FM

MINNEAPOLIS — Five people were shot late Monday night near the 4th Precinct police station in Minneapolis where crowds have gathered for more than a week to protest the police shooting of Jamar Clark.

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None of the victims’ injuries were life-threatening, said Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson John Elder. Three of the victims were driven to North Memorial Medical Center, Elder said, and two others were taken by ambulance to Hennepin County Medical Center.

Minneapolis police said officers were searching for three white male suspects in the shooting.

One of the lead protest groups, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, posted on its Facebook page that “5 unarmed protestors shot by white supremacists who were asked to leave & followed out. One block up they shot one in leg & 1 in stomach.”

Protesters said they had formed a group to walk people away from the 4th Precinct who were causing problems. About a block away from the demonstrations, the shots were fired.

Jei Wronsky-Riley was among the protesters following the people leaving the scene.

“Then it was like they just turned around and they just started shooting. At first I wasn’t sure. I was like, are they shooting firecrackers? Because it was so loud, and there was all this, like, sulfur, or whatever,” she said. “Then it was like the person right next to me on my left went down and the person on my right went down, and I was like, they’re actually shooting at us. They’re shooting bullets at us.”

Rumors about the nature of the shootings — and the shooters — spread quickly through the encampment. Twitter feeds, using the hashtags #Justice4Jamar and #FourthPrecinctShutdown that they’d been using all week, lit up the Internet with theories of the shooters’ identities and police involvement.

“I don’t want to perpetuate rumor,” U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who has joined the group throughout the week-plus demonstration, said after the shootings. “I’d rather just try to get the facts out. That’s a better way to go. I know there’s a lot of speculation as to who these people were. And they well could have been, I’m not trying to say they weren’t white supremacists. But I just haven’t been able to piece together enough information to say with any real clarity.”

Ellison met with some of the bundled-up demonstrators after the Monday night shootings. Temperatures in Minneapolis barely reached 30 degrees in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

“I am worried about people’s safety, I really am,” he said. “There was a shooting down the street tonight. But it’s also the elements. People out here could get frostbitten.”

Eddie Sutton, a brother of Jamar Clark, issued a statement from Clark’s family, imploring the gathered crowd to end their demonstration:

“Thank you to the community for the incredible support you have shown for our family in this difficult time.

We appreciate Black Lives Matter for holding it down and keeping the protests peaceful. But in light of tonight’s shootings, the family feels out of imminent concern for the safety of the occupiers, we must get the occupation of the 4th precinct ended and onto the next step.”

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis reiterated the group’s commitment to the demonstrations early Tuesday morning with a Facebook post reminding followers to join them for a 2 p.m. march later that day. The group has rallied, marched and prayed outside the police department’s 4th Precinct for more than a week since Clark’s shooting.

Authorities have said police shot Clark, 24, during a struggle with police after he interfered with paramedics who were trying to assist an assault victim. But some people who said they saw the shooting allege Clark was handcuffed.

Protesters and Clark’s family have been calling for investigators to release video of the shooting. The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said it has video from the ambulance, a mobile police camera and other sources, but none of it shows the event in its entirety. The agency, which is conducting a state investigation, said releasing the footage now would taint its investigation.

A federal criminal civil rights investigation is also underway, to determine whether police intentionally violated Clark’s civil rights through excessive force.