For nearly three weeks, Black Lives Matter protesters occupied the Fourth Precinct station house of the Minneapolis Police Department. The protest began after the shooting death of Jamar Clark on November 15th. Clark had interfered with paramedics’ attempting to provide care for his girlfriend, who was an alleged victim of Clark’s domestic violence. When police were called to assist the paramedics, a confrontation with Clark ended with him shot in the head. Protesters claimed that Clark was shot “execution-style” while handcuffed, a claim disputed by police, and demanded release of video critical to the investigation.
Over the course of the protest, tension built at city hall, where Mayor Betsy Hodges found herself in a tough political position. Much of her campaign support came from elements sympathetic to Black Lives Matter. But many of the residents in the Fourth Precinct grew wary of campfires and disarray in their streets. Eventually, even Democrat Congressman Keith Ellison, who had participated in the protests and been recognized as its key political leader, called upon demonstrators to disperse.
As one might imagine, nearly three weeks of “occupation” by law-flouting protesters takes its toll on public property. Police were unable to do their jobs during the protests, effectively held under siege inside their precinct building while officers from other areas were brought in to answer local calls. That may be why the department requested additional funding for the Fourth Precinct during recent budget talks. Alas, Black Lives Matter wouldn’t have it, as reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
The proposal, sponsored by Council Members Blong Yang and Barb Johnson and supported by Mayor Betsy Hodges, was announced hours before the council’s scheduled final budget hearing and vote. It would have directed about $605,000 for “safety and accessibility improvements” at the Fourth Precinct station on Plymouth Avenue N.
But before council members formally introduced the plan, they faced disapproval from more than 60 people who spoke at a public hearing, most of them opposed to more funding for a police department they say needs major reform. Many interpreted the amendment as a move to “fortify” the police station, which has been surrounded by temporary barricades since police ended the 18-day occupation of the building last week.
Apparently, it’s not enough to destroy public property and interfere with law enforcement operations. Black Lives Matter also wants to deprive police of the funds to repair the damage and fortify against future unrest.