Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Minnesota demands justice in the violent attack perpetrated against Black Lives Matter protesters at the 4th Precinct in North Minneapolis on November 23, 2015. The attack perpetrated by masked gunmen attempting to intimidate protesters demanding justice for Jamar Clark left 5 victims injured by gunfire. This attack by white supremacists must be understood as an example of the legacy of white supremacist terrorism that has plagued the United States since its inception. Racist attacks such as these, whether perpetrated by individuals, organizations or the state will not deter further resistance to the institutional, structural or individual racism in America today. We will not let acts of violence prevent us from standing up and fighting back against racism in our community. We demand justice!
UMN SDS stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, the NAACP, and the community of North Minneapolis demanding justice for Jamar Clark.
Clark, a 24 year old African American, was shot in police custody outside the Elk’s Lodge at the intersections of Plymouth Ave and James in North Minneapolis in the early morning hours of Sunday November 15, 2015. Family members and witnesses report he was laying down on the ground not resisting arrest when he was shot execution style in the head.
According to the NAACP he was shot in front of dozens of witnesses who were sprayed with mace and had guns drawn on them in the wake of shooting. He was pronounced brain dead at a local hospital and was taken off life support on Monday after his family had time to gather.
Immediately Sunday night protesters gathered at the 4th Precinct in North Minneapolis, only blocks from where the incident took place. The protest quickly turned into an occupation of the precinct, demanding that the video of the confrontation be released publicly and that the responsible officers be brought to justice. In addition the protest has demanded immediate independent investigation, independent civilian oversight of the police, and police having to live in the local communities they serve have been demanded.
Since it has been learned that the officers involved, Officers Mike Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze have faced lawsuits in federal court. Schwarse was accused in 2009 of forcing a man to become an informant through false arrest. Riggenberg was involved in a 2012 lawsuit which accused him of using excessive force in an arrest. None the less both are considered “exemplary” and have never received disciplinary action. It has also been revealed recently that Clark was in the midst of filing a lawsuit against the Minneapolis police department.
Plymouth Ave has been the center of historic struggle for the African American community over the past century. In 1922 after three nights of unrest a group calling itself the National Equal Rights League issued a call to action at the Elk’s Hall. The primary demands of the group were around justice and law enforcement. In 1966 residents took over a building on Plymouth Ave and established The Way, which was aimed at calming the neighborhood in the wake of unrest, disturbance and disillusionment. The 4th Precinct today stands on the location of the site of what had once been The Way. In 1967 violence erupted after an incident between two African American Women and Minneapolis Police at the cities annual summer Aquatennial Parade. Unrest in that incident moved to Plymouth Ave which was a main thoroughfair of local business and social life. Hundreds took to the streets and violence erupted between police and local residents. Over a dozen businesses were destroyed in the unrest and the National Guard was used to quell the unrest. As protests continue today at the 4th Precinct on Plymouth Ave, there are still echoes of this past.
On the night of Monday November 16, hundreds of protesters took to the streets and marched to nearby Interstate 94, where a mass act of civil disobedience shut down traffic for hours on one of the busiest highways in the state. In all 43 adults and 8 juveniles were arrested as hundreds more continued to march chanting “Hands-Cuffed, Don’t Shoot!” On the night of Wednesday November 18th police moved to clear the well-organized occupation camp that had set up around the entry of the 4th Precinct. Police dressed in military gear, heavily armed, and swept methodically through the camp to push protesters out.
Mayor Betsy Hodges has remained all at once committed rhetorically to “justice” but also keeping the investigation out of the public eye by refusing to release the tapes of the killing and allow police to manipulate the narrative. While Mayor Hodges publicly claims that she cannot do anything to tamper with the investigation, her police chief and the police union actively spread propaganda and fear by making unsubstantiated claims of protester violence. The union leadership has meanwhile spread claims that Clark had been going for the officers gun when he was shot. In these efforts to sway public opinion and establish a cover-up for their officers without any transparency or any effort to release documents proving any allegations, future jury pools are being tainted. In both the mayor and the police leadership we can see that politicians will not help provide answers nor will they aid in efforts for justice.
Justice for Jamar Clark will only come from the demands of people standing up and fighting back. The protests this past week have already caught the eye of the international media, and already politicians like are starting to reach out to show support, in response to the ongoing struggle. We as SDS are committed to being in the streets fighting side by side with the community of North Minneapolis, the NAACP, and Black Lives Matter as they wage the struggle for justice for Jamar. We cannot be silent, we will not be silent, and we will not stand down. When our communities of color are under attack, we stand up and fight back!
Dear President Kaler and the Board of Regents,
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is writing to voice our opposition to the ongoing sexual harassment and abuse of women and queer and transgender people that has been pervasive on this campus for a longtime, but has just this semester began making headlines. The University administration’s lack of serious action on this issue demonstrates to us that it is not only NOT taking these issues seriously, but also contributing to the culture of rape on our campuses. With the flood of recent headlines about sexual violence at the U of M, SDS and the undersigned call on the administration to demand accountability for their personnel and a zero tolerance policy for sexual assault.
The actions by members of the University community that have been broadcast in recent headlines are troubling to SDS and to students in general for two main reasons:
First, the assaults and harassments have held up an already-pervasive rape culture that exists on college campuses around the country. The University of Minnesota’s athletic department’s lack of action regarding the recent behaviors of football players, both in groups as well as individually, has only supported the wide-spread and disturbing trend that men are entitled to do whatever they want, regardless of the consent or non-consent of other parties involved, with little to no consequence. While the U’s recent passage of the Affirmative Consent Policy is a step in the right direction, SDS demands the administration’s policies reflect its rhetoric.
Second, SDS has advocated for lower tuition for many years, (with the 2013 tuition freeze evidence of our struggles). It adds insult to injury for students who are, each year, taking on more and more debt, when we realize that the UMN administration is knowingly hiring perpetrators of sexual violence and paying them large sums of money. For example, the search committee that hired Norwood Teague to be Athletic Director had documented evidence of a history of sexual harassment, but the administration chose to hire him anyway. Teague got $422,000 per year to come to the U to harass women. SDS stands against this gross misappropriation of our tuition dollars. It is horrendous that while our tuition continues to skyrocket, and administrators continue to line their pockets with raises and bonuses, they hire harassers like Teague.
SDS demands accountability from the administration for hiring perpetrators like Norwood Teague. Additionally, SDS demands further accountability of people in position of great influence over the student body, such as Coach Jerry Kill. Coach Kill seems to think that simply reporting incidents of sexual violence as they come up exempts him from further responsibility for the appalling behaviors of his football players. These behaviors set examples for the wider campus community. Coach Kill, as a very public representative of the U of M, is paid $2.5 million, and has a responsibility to this community to take a proactive stance against the sexual violence perpetrated by his football players.
SDS stands in solidarity with the victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus and joins them in demanding accountability from university leaders and administrators. It is not enough to simply report incidents up the chain of command without addressing the larger problem. If the University chooses to continue ignoring the allegations its players and high-ranking administrators are facing, it would be at a serious detriment to the safety and well-being of our campus community, thereby perpetuating the culture of rape on campus. Students, staff, and faculty stand up for our university.
Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Minnesota
Amnesty International – UMN
MPIRG – Task force against sexual violence
Join SDS to fight against skyrocketing TUITION, ADMINISTRATIVE BLOAT, and increased HOSTILITY on campus to women, people of color, gender non-conforming and trans individuals.
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Baltimore police officers tackled Freddie Gray and took him into custody on April 12. In the process, police crushed his voice box and nearly severed his spine breaking it in 8 places. Police then waited nearly 40 minutes before calling for medical attention. Gray died a week later from his injuries. This act must be seen rooted in the routine everyday practices of the status quo across the United States.
Local, state, and federal law enforcement units have consistently stolen the lives of innocent Black, Latin@, Indigenous, Asian, and other oppressed nationalities in the States. Amongst those that have stood out the most over the past few years leading to ongoing protests are Derek Williams and Dontre Hamilton killed in Milwaukee, Eric Garner in New York, Michael Brown in Missouri, Walter Lamer Scott in South Carolina, 12 year old Tamir Rice of Cleveland, Rekia Boyd in Chicago, and the homeless James Boyd in New Mexico. These are only a few names amongst many that have been caught in the spotlight of criticism and dissent. However, far less frequently reported are the deaths of women and trans women of color, such as Mya Hall, who hailed from Baltimore, who like Freddie Gray was also killed by police.
Racism and violent brutality doesn’t start or stop with the police; their racism is rooted in the racist institutions, structures and history of the United States. Racism which continues to segregate housing in cities across the United States. Racism which leaves our schools more segregated than before Brown v. Board of Education. Racism that saturates the courts and manifests itself in the ‘legal’ system in the form of mass incarceration, disproportionate sentencing for people of color, routine and systematic harassment, and the abuse of power like that seen at Homan Square in Chicago.
The media also fans the flames of racism by distorting and routinely overlooking and excusing the murders committed by police and vigilantes. This was transparent in the case of Walter Lamar Scott whose case was nearly overlooked as another “routine” killing of a “dangerous” suspect by police, reported by local news without much notice until a video surfaced documenting his being shot in the back as he fled from officers. More examples can be seen daily in the smear campaigns against the protesters demanding Justice for Freddie Gray. The media has constantly been shifting attention away from the damaged spine of Freddie Gray and instead has focused on the damaged private property of Baltimore. The media has refused to acknowledge the vast economic and social disparities in Baltimore, just 40 miles away from the heart of the United States Capitol but instead has branded protesters with veiled racism like “thugs.” The media has excused the police repression carried out by the Baltimore Police and other local law enforcement, reassuring the white middle class viewers that their opinion about the police and their brutality against people of color are just a “few bad eggs” and do not represent any kind of systemic injustice or oppression.
University of Minnesota Students for a Democratic Society stands with the people of Baltimore and oppressed people across the United States in their struggle for liberation and justice. UMN SDS condemns racism, police repression, brutality, and mass incarceration. People of color have the right be free from and to resist oppression, exploitation and white supremacy in all forms.
Students for a Democratic Society and its affiliates stand in solidarity with political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, who is the victim of attempted execution through medical neglect and malpractice. An acclaimed activist, author, and revolutionary journalist; Mumia went into diabetic shock on March 30, with no past history of diabetes. Hospitalized for two days, Mumia was then transferred back to the prison that failed to diagnose his illness. With a dangerously inadequate diet and health that deteriorates each day, Mumia’s well-being is being deliberately sabotaged. As the state’s two past execution attempts were foiled by international pressure, SDS recognizes this medical mistreatment as another attempt on Mumia’s life.
This timing is not accidental. The attempt to silence Mumia comes during waves of racial unrest across the United States. Mumia Abu Jamal is an uncompromising advocate of racial and social justice who continues to inspire activists to fight back against oppression. The United States’ system of white supremacy cannot allow revolutionary figures like Mumia to voice their dissent to the constant reign of terror inflicted upon the black community.
Mumia’s prison doctors claim to be unable to identify the cause of his illness, which leaves his skin blackened and swollen and causes him severe pain. Despite their failure the prison doctors refuse to allow outside medical professionals or diabetes specialists to attend to Mumia Abu Jamal. Each day Mumia is refused proper medical attention brings him closer to death. SDS holds the Pennsylvania State Correctional system complicit in this attempted murder of Mumia Abu Jamal.
Mumia Abu Jamal is one of many political prisoners, like Chicago activist Rasmea Odeh, currently facing repression from the United States’ government. It’s important that we stand in solidarity with our friends in the struggle. The United States must stop its brutal repression tactics, and free all political prisoners!
We demand an end to this medical murder. SDS stands with the family of Mumia and his supporters around the world as we call for his release in order to receive proper medical care.
In Mumia’s words from prison, “We shall prevail!”