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Minneapolis Police Arrest Two in Shooting of Black Lives Matter Protesters


(Reuters) Minneapolis police said on Tuesday they have arrested a 23-year-old white man and a 32-year-old Hispanic man in relation to the shooting of five people near a city police station where demonstrators have gathered for more than a week to protest the killing of an unarmed black man by officers.

The younger suspect was arrested around 11:20 a.m. CST in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, while the older man was arrested in his vehicle about 45 minutes later in south Minneapolis, police said.

“As I said before, we are sparing no efforts to bring any and all those responsible to justice,” Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said after the second arrest. In an earlier video statement, she said she abhorred the attack on the demonstrators.

The police, however, have not yet confirmed a connection between the shooting and the protest. Authorities also said they will release the suspects’ names after charges are filed while the search for any additional suspects continues. Police declined to say whether they were looking for one or more additional suspects.

Police earlier said they were looking for three white male suspects in the shooting late on Monday. It occurred a block from the police station where protests have been held since the fatal Nov. 15 shooting of Jamar Clark, 24, Minneapolis police said in a statement.

None of the wounds in the Monday shooting were life-threatening, and the wounded were taken to hospitals.

Miski Noor, representing Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, said on Tuesday that four men wearing masks approached the site where demonstrators have been encamped protesting Clark’s killing. When the masked men wouldn’t identify themselves, they were escorted away but about half a block from there they opened fire on the demonstrators.

Kyle Loven, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Minneapolis Division, said on Tuesday that the FBI was aware of the incident, was coordinating with the Minneapolis force and would determine whether federal action was appropriate.

He declined to say whether the FBI was investigating the shooting as a possible hate crime.

Clark’s brother, Eddie Sutton, said in a statement that in light of the shootings, his family believed the demonstrations at the police station should end “out of imminent concern for the safety of the occupiers.”

“We appreciate Black Lives Matter for holding it down and keeping the protests peaceful,” Sutton said.

Black Lives Matter held a rally and marched on Tuesday and officials stressed the shooting has not shaken the group’s resolve.

“We will not bow to fear or intimidation,” Black Lives Matter’s Noor said at the rally. “We are recommitting our occupation of the fourth precinct until we get justice.”

Pastor Danny Givens Jr. of Above Every Name Church said the demonstrators would not be scared away.

“We ain’t going nowhere,” he said, using a bullhorn. “This is our precinct.

“We ain’t scared of domestic terrorists,” added Givens, who is the clergy liaison for Black Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis put out a call for supplies.

“Family! We need warm food, gloves/hats, chairs, firewood, and snacks!! We are very low on supplies. Please bring down ASAP. We will not be intimidated,” the group said on its Facebook page.

Questions have been raised as to whether Clark was handcuffed when he was shot, which police have denied. Protesters have demanded that authorities release videos of the Nov. 15 incident.

Clark died the next day from a gunshot wound to the head. The officers involved are on leave.

Earlier on Monday, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said he reviewed video footage taken from the back of an ambulance and said it does not appear to show conclusively what happened in Clark’s shooting.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating Clark’s shooting as is the FBI, which said the release of videos and other evidence would be detrimental to the investigation.

Authorities have said there was no video of the shooting from police dashboard or body cameras, but investigators are reviewing video from business and security cameras in the area, as well as witnesses’ cellphones.

A police union representative has said Clark grabbed one officer’s gun, although the weapon remained in its holster.

Clark’s shooting comes at a time of heightened debate in the United States over police use of lethal force, especially against black people. Over the past year, protests against killings of unarmed black men and women – some videotaped with phones or police cameras – have rocked a number of U.S. cities.