Statement from Protect Minnesota – August 27, 2020

Another police shooting of a Black man, this time in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back on August 23rd. Jacob Blake was not under arrest. His family reports he’s paralyzed.

Protesters demonstrated in Kenosha, Minneapolis and many other cities, demanding justice. Within days, the tragedy of Blake’s shooting was compounded. Three protesters in Kenosha were shot by a 17-year-old white male; one fatally shot in the head, one fatally shot in the torso, one wounded, shot in the arm. The teenager has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide.

Protect Minnesota stands with the victims and survivors of these horrific shootings.

We will not hide behind the idea that ‘we don’t have all the details’ before we speak out against the continued violence against Black people by police. We call for justice for Jacob Blake’s children traumatized by witnessing the shooting of their father, a trauma that will affect their entire lives. We call for justice for the protesters wounded and killed in Kenosha, for their families, and for their fellow protestors who will not forget seeing their compatriots shot beside them.

For many years, our community and country have witnessed painful scenes of police violence against Black and Brown bodies. We cannot ignore the underlying issues of racism in law enforcement and throughout our country.

Anger over racial bias, including in policing, won’t go away until we as a society address the root issues, including economic disparities. We saw that yesterday in Minneapolis, where protesters, looters and police again squared off in downtown streets, after false rumors of another police shooting.

Earlier yesterday, peaceful protesters marched for justice for Lionel Lewis, on the 18th anniversary of his death in police custody in Hibbing. Aniliese Meyer, who was 1 when her father died in the backseat of a squad car, is quoted as saying George Floyd’s killing reopened her trauma.

While protesters marched for Lionel Lewis, Minneapolis police were investigating a fatal shooting of a man in a parking ramp. When they tracked the alleged shooter, he shot and killed himself. Police released surveillance video showing the man’s gun suicide. Mistaken reports of a police-involved shooting of a Black man began spreading across social media. By nightfall, looters had damaged dozens of businesses, the mayor imposed a curfew and requested the National Guard to maintain order.

We’ve seen rising numbers of homicides nationwide, as well as in the Twin Cities. This August, Minneapolis has already exceeded last year’s homicide total. The city has had nearly 100 ShotSpotter Activation reports over the past seven days. New research posits that the spike in violence may be linked to the surge in gun sales that began this spring due to coronavirus lockdowns.

We do not know for sure why violence is surging now. We do know:

  • Gun violence continues to be a public health epidemic: one that too seldom leads to meaningful change that will protect all Minnesotans, including Black and Brown people who are disproportionately impacted by gun violence.
  • Racism is also a public health epidemic. We at Protect Minnesota are learning what’s needed to respond comprehensively and effectively to this crisis with measures grounded both in public health and in racial justice. We seek to follow the leadership of Black and Brown communities and Minneapolitans about what else we can and should do in response to this crisis of gun violence.
  • Common-sense gun laws can help reduce gun violence. We support expanded background checks and extended risk protection orders, (also known as red flag laws). These measures are needed, but we know they don’t reduce gun violence equitably across all of our communities. We can take additional measures to reduce gun violence throughout all of Minnesota.
  • Our families and communities are not safer with guns in the home. That’s why Protect Minnesota has accelerated our distribution of trigger locks to equip people with safer gun ownership education and trigger locks that can help prevent unintended shootings in the home, reduce child access to firearms, and deter firearm theft. This expanded effort is centered in North Minneapolis, which is disproportionately impacted by gun violence, including shots fired, non-fatal shootings, and homicide.
  • Suicide continues to be the leading cause of gun deaths in Minnesota. Last year, 355 Minnesotans used a gun to kill themselves.
  • Protect Minnesota stands with Jacob Blake and the protesters who demand justice for him.

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