Dayton pledges $15 million in taxpayer money to appease protesters, 4th precinct cleared

This morning Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau stood together to announce that the “Justice for Jamar” protest campsite outside the city’s 4th police precinct headquarters has been cleared.  After two weeks of angry protests which included protesters throwing rocks, bricks and bottles at officers, and and ugly incident where five protesters were shot and injured by outside agitators, Hodges said “it was time.”

The Black Lives Matter movement in Minnesota has been going strong for over a year.  The national movement spawned after the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri caused by the August 2014 police shooting death of Michael Brown.  The officer involved in the case was exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing– by both a grand jury and the federal Department of Justice.  When the Missouri grand jury failed to indict the police officer charged, Black Lives Matter (BLM) in Minnesota began. By December, BLM was in full-swing and on the last Saturday before Christmas 2014, 2,000-3,000 protesters showed up to disrupt holiday shopping at the Mall of America in Bloomington.  That effort was lead by Nakima Levy-Pounds, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas and President of the NAACP in Minneapolis.  Ms. Pounds isn’t your run-of-the-mill-protesting activist, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Minneapolis Foundation, Catholic Charities, and the liberal think-tank Growth and Justice, founded by former Editor of the Star Tribune, Joel Kramer.  Kramer is now the CEO of MinnPost and Levy-Pounds has had multiple flattering features at the  liberal news site, whose sponsors include The Minneapolis Foundation and members of the Dayton family.

Other major BLM protests in Minnesota have included shutting down Snelling Avenue in St. Paul in August during the state fair– without obtaining a permit from the city— and threatening to shut down the Twin Cities Marathon in early October.  St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman negotiated a special protest space, right near the finish line of the race, to oblige the protesters.

Then, on November 15th, Jamar Clark was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer responding to a domestic assault call.  One day later U.S. Representative Keith Ellison made the formal request to bring in the federal government– The Department of Justice and the FBI– to investigate the Minneapolis Police.  Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Governor Mark Dayton supported the call for a federal investigation, but it didn’t quell the anger.  On November 16, BLM protestors shut down Interstate 94 in Minneapolis where 42 were arrested.  Levy-Pounds was among those arrested and she was rewarded with a meeting with Dayton and Hodges four days later, KARE 11 reported.

Reports indicate that Jamar had assaulted his girlfriend and then interfered with Emergency Medical Services and grabbed for an officer’s gun, resulting in the use of lethal force.  However, witnesses dispute the account.  Police have not released video, which protesters have been demanding.  Governor Dayton has viewed it, but stated that the video was “inconclusive” and would provide neither “confirmation to one point of view or another.”  When the “Justice for Jamar 4th precinct shutdown” protest began in mid-November, liberal city leaders took no action to stop it, despite illegal encampments and fires made on city streets.

Rep. Ellison was standing side-by-side with BLM leaders and addressed the group at their November 19th protest. Ellison’s son also joined the protests, and a picture of a policeman allegedly pointing a gun at him, was circulated all over social media.   Police spokesman John Elder stated that the chalk-gun, used to mark law-breaking protesters, was not pointed at Jeremiah Ellison. Despite the fact that it didn’t happen, the Congressman stoked the flames tweeting:  “Photo is agonizing for me to see, My son is PEACEFULLY protesting w/ hands up; officer is shouldering gun. Why?”  The tweet was shared over 4,000 times. Democracy Now reported Ellison stating, “Shouldering a weapon against nonviolent protesters is aggressive… and it did not help de-escalate the situation at all.”

But by November 30, Ellison changed his position and called for an end to the protests for the sake of public safety, resulting in BLM leaders taking him to task on Twitter for the flip-flop.  (See tweets at the end of this story.)

Now Governor Dayton is seeking to throw money at the ongoing BLM protests by pledging $15 million in taxpayer dollars to non-specific measures to address “racial disparities” stating the “urgency” of the situation.  He wants the legislature to convene in a special session, prior to the start of the regular session in March, in order to allocate the funds.  Is this a result of the meeting with NAACP leaders that took place in late November?

A few of Levy-Pounds many demands to stop the protests included a jobs program in north Minneapolis, a “state of the art community center,” and “culturally competent” officers and these things cost money.  The NAACP leader has previously talked to Dayton about creating a “state director” position for black small business.  Taxpayers are already spending $8 million to re-develop a 47,000 square foot former car dealership into a new “workforce development, health and education resource center in north Minneapolis.

Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman has called for a grand jury to hear the Jamar Clark case and BLM has already stated that they don’t believe the grand jury process will deliver justice.   Protesters plan to move to the much-warmer City Hall for continued protests.

Take a look at Rep. Ellison’s twitter back-and-forth from Monday night: