- Five African Americans were shot at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis Monday night.
- Police have arrested three white men in connection with the shootings. (A fourth man, who was Hispanic, was arrested on Tuesday but was later released because he was not at the scene of the shooting.)
- Officials are considering filing hate crime charges against the shooters.
- None of the protesters suffered life-threatening injuries.
- The protesters have been staging nightly protests outside Minneapolis's Fourth Precinct, after two police officers shot and killed a Minneapolis man named Jamar Clark on November 15.
The death of Jamar Clark
Black Lives Matter protesters have been holding nightly rallies outside the headquarters of the Minneapolis Police Department's Fourth Precinct for the past several nights. They're calling for police accountability after two of the city's police officers shot an unarmed black man, Jamar Clark, on November 15.
According to the Washington Post and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minneapolis officials say that on the night of the shooting, paramedics were attempting to help an assault victim but were interrupted by Clark. The paramedics called in police for support. (Authorities also say Clark was a suspect in the assault the paramedics were responding to.)
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety said there was an ensuing altercation between Clark and the police officers, and at some point during that altercation, Clark was shot. He died in the hospital a day later.
The city's police department has asked the state Department of Public Safety to look into the shooting. The federal government is also getting involved: Department of Justice lawyers flew into Minneapolis on Sunday to look into Clark's death, according to the Associated Press, after the mayor requested a federal civil rights investigation.
Clark's death follows a pattern of police killings — and vigorous protest
Clark is one of hundreds of African Americans who have been killed by police in 2015. (The federal government doesn't keep official statistics, but one independent database maintained by the Guardian says that 1,024 people have been killed by police this year.) And additional black Americans have been killed in police custody.
In response to police killings like these, the Black Lives Matter movement has become a national force to call attention to killings of young African Americans — especially at the hands of police — and to call for accountability for their killers. The movement rose to national prominence after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer. Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Brown — like most police officers who kill civilians — was not criminally charged in Brown's death.
Minneapolis is one of countless cities where protests have sprung up after police have killed an unarmed black American. Protesters have commonly called not only for accountability for the officers responsible, including criminal investigations, but for a deeper accounting of police-community relations and racial justice in the community in question. While protests have often been spurred by a single incident —like Clark's death — protesters tend to believe that deaths like Clark's indicate deeper problems within police departments and other institutions with valuing black life.
Because Black Lives Matter protests have often focused on police departments, critics have often accused them of inciting violence against police. That criticism has been reinforced by incidents like the killing of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in New York last fall, which the attacker claimed was revenge for the killing of black men like Eric Garner at the hands of police. And in rare cases, as in Baltimore this spring after the death of Freddie Gray in the back of a police van, protests have included vandalism and property damage. Contrary to the beliefs of critics, however, there's no evidence that increased scrutiny of police has resulted in increased anti-police violence or an uptick in violent crime.