Murders by police and violent attacks on peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters snatched national headlines over the Thanksgiving holiday in a media storm that continues this week.
Early on Monday all eyes were on Minneapolis, where four men have been charged with shooting five of the unarmed protesters who have gathered daily outside a police precinct since the killing of a 24-year-old Black youth on November 15.
Prosecutors filed felony charges, including second-degree riot charges, against the men who opened fire outside the 4th Precinct last week.
The protest encampment that was the site of the terrorist attack sprang up two weeks ago following the death of Jamar Clark, who was shot by officers responding to a domestic violence call, and who died in hospital a day later. Witnesses say Clark was handcuffed when the fatal shot was fired, a charge the officers have denied.
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According to the Guardian, the investigation into the attack on protesters is ongoing, with the possibility that the four men may face additional felony hate-crime charges.
One of the assailants, Allen Scarsella, has admitted to firing shots into the crowd, and authorities have identified him as one of the individuals in a video of masked men waiving a gun while apparently driving to the protest site. His bail has been set at $500,000, while his co-defendants’ bail has been set at $250,000 each.
The shooting at the precinct adds to a long list of attacks by white right-wing extremists, who collectively represent the biggest terror threat in the United States, according to a recent study by the New America Foundation.
This piece by Shaun King in the New York Daily Post is also worth a read—it examines the “new faces of white supremacy in America.”
Last week the media was preoccupied with protests in Chicago, where Black Lives Matter activists blocked store entrances and halted traffic to express outrage over the police killing of a Black teenager more than a year ago.
Laquan McDonald was 17 years old when Jason Van Dyke, a white police officer, fired 16 shots into his body, most of them while the boy—already hit by one bullet—lay motionless on the street. An autopsy report revealed that nine of those gunshots were fired into his back, TIME reported.
Authorities did not release dashcam footage of the incident until 400 days after McDonald’s murder, and only did so when freelance journalist Brandon Smith filed a FOIA request asking the police department to submit the video, and after facing sustained pressure from local organizers like the Black Youth Project.
Following the release of the video, Van Dyke turned himself in, and was charged with first-degree murder. However, late on Monday evening the officer had posted the required 10 percent of his $1.5 million bond and was out on bail.
Even as prosecutors requested Cook County Criminal Court Associate Judge Donald Panarese Jr. to maintain Van Dyke’s no-bail status, news was coming to light that Chicago police entered a Burger King close to where the shooting took place and possibly deleted footage of the killing from the store’s security cameras on the night of the incident, according to a Chicago NBC affiliate.
This New York Times op-ed provides details on the cover-up of McDonald’s murder, starting from the moment Cook County prosecutor Anita Alvarez first viewed the police camera footage back in 2014.
According to the Daily Beast, police have killed 14 teenagers—at least six of them Black—since the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer.
Days before the Black Friday protests, Ebony reported that the superintendent of the Chicago police, Garry McCarthy, took the first step toward firing the off-duty police officer who shot and killed 22-year-old Rekia Boyd back in 2012. But on Tuesday morning, McCarthy was himself dismissed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the wake of public outrage over McDonald’s murder.
Monday also marked the start of the trial for six officers involved with the killing of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Black man who died in police custody in Baltimore City on April 19, allegedly after being shackled in a police van where he sustained fatal spinal injuries.
This CNN piece has more on the trial, which is being conducted under strict restrictions on public access: Daily transcripts will not be provided, recording equipment is not allowed in the courtroom, and lawyers on both sides are under a gag order.