In Photos: Minnesotans Face Gunfire and Cold in 11-Day Occupation of Police Precinct

In Minneapolis, demonstrators are demanding police release video of a fatal shooting of an African-American man. Earlier this week, five were shot by alleged white supremacists.
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People comfort one another the morning after gunmen fired on a Black Lives Matter protest. All photos by Christopher Zumski Finke.

Police in Minneapolis arrested three men on Tuesday night, suspected of shooting five people participating in a Black Lives Matter protest. Though the protesters’ wounds were not life-threatening, organizers remained concerned: The gunmen are reportedly white supremacists who interfered with the demonstration. Authorities are considering charging the men with hate crimes.

Police in Minneapolis arrested three men suspected of shooting five people participating in a Black Lives Matter protest.

Protesters were gathered at the 4th Precinct of the Minneapolis Police Department, where they have camped since November 15th. They are demanding footage of the shooting of Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old African American man who was shot in the head by police on November 14th. He later died in the hospital. Demonstrators believe video from ambulance, mobile phones and public housing cameras could clarify what happened between Clark and police officers if released to the public. That footage is being held for a federal investigation by the DOJ, which is underway.

According to police reports, Clark had engaged in a physical confrontation with his girlfriend when a 911 call was made. He was allegedly interfering with the paramedics who tried to treat her and, later, confronted police. Those reports claim that Clark tried to grab an officer's gun when he was shot.

That account is in dispute. Numerous eye witnesses claim that Clark was handcuffed prior to the shooting incident. An investigation by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension reported that handcuffs were found, but were not in use at the time of the shooting. No weapons were found at the scene.

The encounter has brought locals, led in part by Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and supported by the NAACP and other labor, environmental, and community groups, to the doors of the 4th Precinct Police Station. They have not left since the 15th. Mostly peaceful, the activists have run into violence—on November 18th, police in riot gear attempted to disperse the crowd, protesters were pepper sprayed while anarchist groups threw Molotov cocktails. Then, even after Monday's shooting, more shots were reported early Wednesday morning. No one was injured.

Despite escalation, the occupation is planned to continue. On Thursday, 4th Precinct Shut Down will celebrate #BlackGiving, an all volunteer and donation-based celebration.

Here's a look inside the #4thPrecinctShutDown:

The 4th Precinct of the Minneapolis Police Department, on the city's North Side. In the last four years, more than $6 million has been paid by the city as a result of police misconduct.

Six days into the 4th Precinct Shut Down, the protesters moved into the street, blocking off Plymouth Avenue between Morgan and Penn Avenues.

Outside the station, MPD officers interact with protesters and passers-by. Some of these conversations lead to handshakes, fist-bumps, and hugs. One officer explained the details of justifiable homicide to a young woman in the crowd.

At other times, anger rose to the surface. Above, a protester accuses the MPD of terrorism on the North side.

“It ain’t about black and white, it’s about right from wrong,” one demonstrator said.

Protesters have demanded video footage be released by the MPD in hopes of discovering whether Clark was handcuffed when he was shot.

Labor groups have shown support for the protesters. The Minneapolis Police Union president, Lt. Bob Kroll, has claimed the protesters are being paid by labor unions who supported Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.

It’s cold in Minnesota, and the call for firewood has been steady on social media. The overnight temperatures in recent days have been in the 20s.

Donations of food, water, milk, coffee, and hot cocoa have kept protesters warm and fed. Volunteers offering medical attention have also been on the scene.

The mood Tuesday morning at the 4th precinct was somber. Of the shooters, one man in the crowd said, “Those men could have done anything they wanted. They did not have to shoot those people.”