No justice, no peace.
Top Minneapolis prosecutor Mike Freeman announced Wednesday that no criminal charges will be filed against the two police officers that were involved in the shooting death of 24-year-old Jamar Clark last November. The Hennepin County attorney stated that charges are not warranted because the deadly force was justified. Black Lives Matter activists, who have actively protested the events that led to Clark's death, told the prosecutor that "if the city burns, it's on your hands."
The initial incident was the catalyst behind much protest in the surrounding community after some witnesses said that the two police officers involved in the shooting, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, killed Clark in cold blood, as he was already cuffed on the ground. The police claim that the reason they shot the young man was because he had reached for Ringgenberg's gun during the attempted arrest.
Many are taking to Twitter following the announcement not to prosecute:
In his statement regarding his decision, Freeman said forensic evidence and officer testimony showed Clark was “not handcuffed at the time he was shot.” Adding, "The presence of Clark’s DNA on Ringgenberg’s duty belt and grip of Ringgenberg’s gun is strong forensic corroboration of the officer’s statements that Clark’s hand was on the grip of Ringgenberg’s gun." He concluded that, "Clark simply could not have been handcuffed and attempting to seize Ringgenberg’s gun while they were on the ground."
These statements are not enough to deter protesters' belief that this is yet another example of police brutality with a young Black man in the crosshairs. One protester claimed that Freeman’s narrative “pushed the Minneapolis Police Department’s propaganda” and ignored witness accounts. At a conference following the announcement, another protester assured, "We will not rest until we get justice."
Police Chief Janeé Harteau said that there will be safe spaces for people to demonstrate their "feelings and thoughts" regarding Freeman's announcement. She added that there are contingency plans in place in the event that protests should turn violent. Violence erupted at various protests following Clark's death last year, with police reportedly pepper-spraying several people when they stormed Black Lives Matter Minneapolis headquarters. Another demonstration lead to arrests when five protesters were shot. Four people, some of whom expressed anti-Black sentiments, were later and charged for the shootings.
Mayor Besty Hodges thanked Freeman for his "transparency and thoroughness” in his review of the incident, adding that the Minneapolis Police Department will "thoroughly review" the evidence when making a decision regarding both Ringgenberg and Schwarze's future with the department. The two are currently working on non-enforcement duties.
(Photo: Jamar Clark/Javille Burns via AP, File)