MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — More than 50 people were arrested during the second day of protests in Minneapolis over the shooting of a black man by a police officer during an apparent struggle.
Hundreds of people protesting 24-year-old Jamar Clark’s shooting blocked Interstate 94 on Monday night, shutting down the northbound lanes for about two and a half hours. Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Tiffani Schweigart said 43 adults and 8 juveniles who refused multiple orders to disperse were arrested.
Authorities have released few details about the shooting, which has angered some community members after witnesses said the man was handcuffed when he was shot. Police said their initial information showed the man, a suspect in an assault, was not handcuffed. He was taken to a hospital after the shooting, and his family says he is on life support.
The demonstrations came after the mayor of Minneapolis earlier in the day asked for a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting.
Mayor Betsy Hodges said she wrote to the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and to the U.S. attorney for Minnesota seeking the investigation in the “interest of transparency and community confidence.” The state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is already conducting a criminal investigation, but Hodges said the city needs “all the tools we have available to us.”
Two officers are on paid leave, standard practice after such an incident. Police Chief Janee Harteau said the officers were not wearing body cameras, but declined to say whether squad car or surveillance video was available, citing the ongoing investigation.
The incident sparked protests Sunday and an overnight encampment at the north Minneapolis police precinct near the site of the shooting. Protesters on Monday applauded the request for a federal investigation but said they would continue the precinct sit-in until authorities release any video they have of the incident as well as the officer’s identity.
At least eight tents were set up outside Monday, and a handful of protesters were sitting behind glass doors in the foyer, including one who was knitting.
“We’re still not moving until we get that footage,” said Michael McDowell, a member of Black Lives Matter.
Later, the crowd of hundreds blocked I-94.
Schweigart said the 51 people who were arrested were cooperative and no use of force was required in detaining them.
Police said the incident began when they were called to north Minneapolis around 12:45 a.m. Sunday following a report of an assault. When they arrived, a man was interfering with paramedics helping the victim, police said. Officers tried to calm him, but there was a struggle. At some point, an officer fired at least once, hitting the man, police said.
Authorities have not released the man’s name, but family members have identified him. Clark’s father, James Hill, told The Associated Press that his son suffered a single gunshot wound over his left eye.
Ramona Dohman, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said the officers’ identities would be released after investigators interview them. She declined to say how long the investigation could take.
Harteau, the police chief, said she welcomed a federal investigation.
“Everyone involved needs and deserves the truth and the facts,” she said.
Gov. Mark Dayton also issued a statement saying he supported the request for a federal probe.
The protests are just the latest expression of tension between the department and minorities in the city.
Outrage and a civil lawsuit followed the 2013 death of 22-year-old Terrance Franklin, a burglary suspect whom police pursued and shot in a Minneapolis basement. A grand jury declined to indict the officers involved.
In 2014, prominent civil rights activist Al Flowers complained of being the victim of brutality when police served a warrant on a relative at his home. Police say Flowers instigated their aggression.
The rocky relations have led to discussions between police and minorities and the creation of task forces designed to quell concerns. This spring, Minneapolis was selected for a federal Justice Department program to rebuild trust between police and the communities they patrol.
Associated Press writers Jeff Baenen, Brian Bakst and Doug Glass contributed.