They were shot approximately one block from Minneapolis’ 4th Police District Headquarters, where they were exercising their constitutional rights to assembly and free speech to demand justice for the extrajudicial killing of unarmed, 24-year-old Jamar Clark. They were shot by white supremacists who quickly escalated from online plotting of confrontations with BLM protesters to taunting protesters in person to opening fire, and yet police are still not sure whether or not to call it a “hate crime.” Let’s be frank — this wasn’t a hate crime, it was terrorism.
Even scarier is that it’s having its intended effect.
Expressing concern for the safety of the protesters outside the precinct, Jamar Clark’s brother, Eddie Sutton, urged an end to the encampment.
“Thank you to the community for the incredible support you have shown for our family in this difficult time,” Sutton said in the statement issued early Tuesday. “We appreciate Black Lives Matter for holding it down and keeping the protests peaceful. But in light of tonight’s shootings, the family feels out of imminent concern for the safety of the occupiers, we must get the occupation of the 4th precinct ended and onto the next step.” Karen Zamora and Libor Jany, Star Tribune
Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson was quick to call for an end to protests:
“[Johnson] said she believes it’s time for the demonstrations to end, in part because they are attracting attention from outside groups.
“That’s part of the problem with these protests: the longer they go on, the more participation there is from across the country,” Johnson said. “The longer it goes on, the worse it gets.” Karen Zamora and Libor Jany, Star Tribune
Let’s consider for a moment how wildly inappropriate it is to blame BLM protesters rather than the white supremacists who actually carried out the attack. Attacking demonstrators serves to scare BLM protesters into feeling too unsafe to exercise their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly. It forces an already grieving family to feel guilty and afraid for putting community members at risk by “allowing” protests to happen.
If the roles were reversed — if Black Lives Matter-affiliated shooters attacked a group of white protesters — how quickly would the attacks be labeled as terrorism? If Muslim shooters attacked literally anyone, would we label it as “5 People Shot Near Site of Protest?”