Minneapolis Black Lives Matter protesters paused on Thursday to share a community Thanksgiving Day meal on the spot outside a police station where they have been demonstrating for more than a week over the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man.
Hundreds of supporters of the civil rights movement joined residents of north Minneapolis outside the city’s fourth police precinct for a traditional holiday feast consisting of roast turkey, stuffing, pie and all the trimmings.
The meal was co-hosted by the Minneapolis chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The precinct grounds have been the center of protest rallies since Jamar Clark, 24, was shot in the head on Nov. 15 by Minneapolis police called by paramedics attending to his girlfriend outside of an Elk’s Lodge. He died the next day.
Clark’s death came amid a series of high-profile slayings of unarmed black men at the hands of predominantly white law enforcement agencies across the United States, sparking a renewed national debate over the use of lethal force by police against racial minorities.
Protesters in Minneapolis have demanded that the police officers involved in Clark’s case, who are now on leave, be held accountable, and that authorities release video footage known to exist from the shooting.
Questions have been raised about whether Clark, who a police union representative said had grabbed for an officer’s gun, was already handcuffed when he was shot. Police deny this.
Tensions rose further on Monday when five protesters were shot and wounded near the police station. Three white men later arrested were being held in Minneapolis, facing possible criminal charges in that shooting.
Protest organizers said the Thanksgiving meal, which they dubbed “Blacksgiving,” was aimed at showing gratitude for support demonstrators have received from near and far.
“We wanted to continue the community space we’ve been building here and use a lot of the resources that we’ve been receiving to give back to the community,” said Miski Noor of Black Lives Matter.
“I’m here to support my community who just wants some answers,” said Ebony Harris, an off-and-on resident of north Minneapolis for three decades.
The event also afforded protesters a chance to relax after more than a week of tumult and camping out in cold weather.
The investigation of the Clark shooting has been turned over to state authorities. The U.S. Justice Department has also opened an inquiry.
(Reporting by Kristoffer Tigue; Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Eric Walsh)