Despite lower numbers, policing, economic concerns keep group going
Published 8:11 am Wednesday, December 2, 2015
By Matt Sepic and Doualy Xaykaothao
MINNEAPOLIS — Despite calls from political leaders, Black Lives Matter protesters still say they will not remove their encampment from the 4th Precinct police station in north Minneapolis. But on their 17th night there, protesters’ numbers have dwindled.
Demonstrators continue to demand the release of video in the fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark, as well as the prosecution of the two officers involved. They held another rally at Minneapolis City Hall Tuesday afternoon, which drew around 100 protesters.
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But protesters are beginning to focus more attention on the wide gaps in health, education and income between whites and African-Americans.
“It’s not just policing. Right now there’s a focus on police brutality and police reform. But overall we’re trying to change all systems that are oppressive to black folks and people of color,” said organizer Michael McDowell. “And you see that in every sector: health care, education, employment, housing — all these different sectors.”
Some political leaders are hearing that message. On Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton reiterated his call for a special legislative session to “address the serious disparities affecting Minnesotans of color.” The DFL governor also attended a groundbreaking in north Minneapolis for a new employment, education and health center.
Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds said economic development on the north side needs to focus especially on black-owned businesses, primarily their access to capital. Levy-Pounds said that should go beyond government programs.
“So that means perhaps revolving loan programs, it means the business community stepping up and helping to mentor some of the business owners and inviting them into their networks, so that they’re able to build their businesses and take things to a whole other level.”